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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

On RH Bill

One of the hottest issues today in the country is the Reproductive Health Bill that is being pushed by the Aquino administration.  The bill addresses a lot of areas including maternal health, access to health services, family planning, and poverty alleviation. The true intention of the bill is to really control a rapidly growing population and to improve the current system and policies on family planning and maternal health.

In the year 2000, the country signed the UN's Millennium Development Goals.  The MDG consists of 8 developmental goals that 193 Nations signed and agreed to achieve by 2015(4 years from now). The Philippines is basically bound to this agreement. The RH Bill is one of the key bills that will show our commitment towards those goals.  Goal 3 is about Promoting Gender Equality and Empowering Women. Goal 5 is on improving maternal health. The RH Bill is trying to reduce Maternal Mortality rates by providing better access to information for soon-to-be mothers. Target 5B involves contraceptive prevalence rate, Adolescent birth rate, Antenetal Care Coverage, and Unmet need for family panning. These goals are part of the meat of the proposed RH Bill. Goal 6 which is combating AIDS and other deadly diseases is also being addressed by the bill.

The RH Bill is really filled with good intentions.  The bill has sparked intense debate among the pros and antis. They have really valid points both sides. My only question is how much is the cost of the implementation of the bill? How many pesos do we need each year to buy contraceptives, pay for the free services, pay for additional sex education subject, and for the monitoring and policing of its implementation? It will definitely cost billions of pesos annually. Risa Hontiveros, one of its proponents tweeted that it will be around 2.5-3 Billion for the contraceptives and around 5 billion of the health services. These figures are quiet big. I wonder where will we get the money to pay for it? Pork barrel? If you were a Congressman, will you buy condoms over classrooms? If we really have those money to pay for the bill, how come we still see students having no decent classrooms? Education has always been deemed to be the solution for our problems on poverty yet the government has a lot of backlog on these aspect and now they are even thinking of adding 2 more years in high school.

The RH bill has a lot of merit but our leaders should study the full extent of the law and its costs as well opportunity costs.  Having a bigger debt will be a bigger hindrance in solving poverty incidence in the country. We have to spend our very limited resources wisely.