No need for RH bill—SottoBy Cathy C. Yamsuan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Since the proposed P56.8-billion budget of the Department of Health (DOH) for 2013 already includes allocations for family planning programs, there is no need to approve the reproductive health (RH) bill, argued Senate majority leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III.
Sotto made this assertion during plenary debates on Tuesday night, saying the DOH already has about P21 billion in RH-related programs and purchases in the 2013 budget.
P2.5B on family health
Of this amount, the most prominent is the P2.5 billion for a program called “Family Health and Responsible Parenting (FHRP)” and P268 million for “Family Planning Operations and Infrastructure Programs (FPOIP).”
The FHRP, for example, includes items such as: Adolescent Health and Development Program Integration into Curriculum for private and public schools (P3.5 million); Reproduction of Family Planning Materials (P3 million); Family Planning Commodities (P245 million); Injectables (P91 million) IUD (P170 million); “No Scalpel” Vasectomy (P500,000); Bilateral Tubal Ligation Kits (P11 million) and Natural Family Planning Bundle Packs (P31 million).
According to the senator, he has word that the DOH “has already come up with its implementing rules and regulations on the RH bill” even though Congress is still far from approving the controversial measure.
Sotto also said the DOH now had an administrative order on a national strategy for family planning where a key element is the “provision of affordable and accessible counseling, supplies, commodities and service of all safe and effective methods to couples desiring to space or limit family size.”
“Given these items that I mentioned, which are all related to the provisions of the RH bill, it seems to me that the RH bill is already being implemented by the DOH,” Sotto said in his interpellation.
RH without RA
The allocations indicate that the DOH is already doing its part in ensuring maternal health and the reduction of infant mortality sans the RH bill, he added.
“But once we approve a bill with provisions that are controversial, these could possibly offend some religious sectors. As I said, the best argument against the RH bill is the DOH itself because it is already doing the job and doing it well,” he added.