Streets of Iloilo turn purple in pro-RH rallies
ILOILO CITY—Women’s groups and reproductive health advocates in Iloilo on Wednesday held various mass actions to push for the passage of the reproductive health (RH) bill in Congress.
Hundreds of advocates, mostly wearing purple clothes, assembled at the grounds of the Iloilo provincial capitol in the afternoon before marching to the Jaro District Plaza as part of the “National Day of the Purple Ribbon for Reproductive Health.”
The participants, including government workers, professionals, students and the urban poor, held a memorial program at the Jaro Plaza to draw attention to a grim fact—11 maternal deaths daily.
Participants lit candles, offered flowers, sang and gave testimonies on the impact on women and their families of the lack of reproductive health services and support. Purple ribbons were also tied in offices, lamp posts and other public areas.
In the morning, at least 50 members of the Gabriela Women’s Party also held a rally at a main intersection in the city, to push for the bill’s approval.
Gabriela said the bill should not only focus on controlling population but ensure the health of women.
The bill is still pending in Congress. It provides for greater access to safe and legal health care services, information and education for women and children.
The Catholic Church is strongly opposing the measure on moral grounds claiming the bill promotes contraception and is against its teachings and beliefs.
Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin, one of the principal authors of the bill, said the nationwide mass actions showed “growing support from the grassroots” for the approval of the bill.
“The House and Senate must vote upon this bill once and for all because we have to heed the clamor of the people, especially women, for accessible and comprehensive reproductive health care,” Garin said in a phone interview on Wednesday.
Garin said bill proponents were hoping that plenary debates would resume soon so the House could vote on it this year. She said they were confident that they have the numbers to pass the bill in the House.
A nationwide survey conducted by Pulse Asia in October 2010 showed that 69 percent of Filipinos agree with the bill while 7 percent oppose it. Another 24 percent are fence-sitters.
A separate survey conducted by the Social Weather Station in September 2008 showed that 71 percent of Filipinos support the bill.
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