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Hontiveros slams Duterte for ‘irresponsible’ remarks on condoms

By: - Reporter / @JhoannaBINQ
/ 06:36 PM February 15, 2018
Condoms from the Department of Health

A Filipino health worker shows condoms that are given for free to the public by the Department of Health in Manila, Philippines, on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016. A human rights watchdog says the Philippines is facing one of the fastest growing epidemics of HIV in the Asia Pacific, fueled by government policies that restrict intervention, including access to condoms by men who have sex with men. (Photoby AARON FAVILA/AP)

Senator Risa Hontiveros criticized President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday for making “thoughtless” and “irresponsible” remarks on family planning and use of condoms.

“President Duterte should stop making thoughtless, reckless and irresponsible statements at the expense of public health,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

Duterte on Tuesday told a mostly-women crowd of returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to use pills instead of condoms because it is “not pleasurable.”

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“May pills libre. ‘Wag ‘yang condom kasi hindi masarap ‘yang condom,” Duterte said, drawing laughter from the audience.

(There are free pills. Do not use condom because it’s not pleasurable.)

“Hindi, totoo. Hindi ako nagpapatawa. Harap nga ng ating Republika eh,” he added.

(No, it’s true. I’m not joking in front of our Republic.)

In his speech, Duterte compared the Philippines to Japan, which has an aging population because women “refuse” to have children.

The Philippines, on the other hand, is overpopulated, which is why jobs in the country are scarce.

“Eh ang Pilipino, walang alam ‘yan basta rapapapapappapap — 110 million kaya mahirap ang buhay,” Duterte said.

(But Filipinos know nothing but to [reproduce]—110 million [population], that’s why life is hard.)

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Hontiveros chided Duterte for his statement, noting that disapproving condoms as a safe and reliable form of contraception  “denies the public the widest array of options to plan their families, protect themselves from STDs and curb the growing number of teenage pregnancies.”

“Hindi masarap kapag may condom? President Duterte seems to be overly concerned with pleasure. There is nothing pleasurable or funny about the rise in our cases of HIV [human immunodeficiency disease] and teen pregnancy,” she said.

According to Human Rights Watch, the Philippines’ policy failure helped fuel the HIV epidemic in the country.

“The country’s growing HIV epidemic has been fueled by a legal and policy environment hostile to evidence-based policies and interventions proven to help prevent HIV transmission,” HRW said in its 2016 study.

“Government policies create obstacles to condom access and HIV testing and limit educational efforts on HIV prevention,” it added.

The United Nations reported that the Philippines has the highest HIV infection growth rate in the Asia-Pacific region. At the end of 2016, there were 10,500 Filipinos infected with HIV, a significant increase from 4,300 in 2010.

Burden on women

Hontiveros, chairperson of the Senate committee on women, children, family relations, and gender equality, also said that the President’s public disapproval of condoms also put the burden of family planning on women.

“The President’s statement is a virtual insistence that women should continue to carry the burden of family planning alone,” Hontiveros said.

“This contradicts one of the aims of the Reproductive Health Law, which he claims to champion, to ensure equality in responsibility as far as family is concerned. This is unacceptable,” she added.

She said that men must also do their share and be at par with women in sharing their family planning duty.

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TAGS: birth pills, Condoms, Family planning, Philippine news updates, President Duterte, reproductive health, Risa Hontiveros
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