The launching of the Catholic for RH Speak Out! Movement, a fellowship of concerned individual Catholics who believe that Reproductive Health is a right, united various NGOs, professionals and individuals who value their Catholic belief while recognizing that population management should become part of a national "anti-poverty" policy. Well-meaning individuals coming from the following organizations like Leadership Development for Mobilizing Reproductive Health (LDM), The Forum for Family Planning and Development, and Leadership for Empowerment, Advocacy and Development Network (LEADNet), Health Action Information Network (HAIN) volunteered to organize the movement and press for the passage of the Reproductive Health bill.
The mission of the movement is to "bring Catholics into full harmony with their faith and realize that there is no dissonance with their being Catholic and simultaneously believing in the advocacy and goals of reproductive health and rights," according to the briefer released by the movement. A core of Catholics serves as the team behind the implementation of the various activities of the movement. During the launch held last month in Intramuros, Manila, former Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Dr. Alberto G. Romualdez was invited to talk about the importance of an effective policy on population management.
In his introduction, Dr. Romualdez said he is a Catholic, raised and educated in Catholic schools. But when he was a medical student he realized that not all Filipinos are treated equal especially by the health sector. This thinking was further confirmed when he served as DOH secretary. "I believe it is not right that there is a woman who has access to all information she needs while another does not have. Those women in the lowest 20% have no access to information and the means to obtain family planning information and supplies," according to Romualdez. He stressed that "population management, especially family planning, is a vital issue in poverty. And a true government is one that will draw up an effective family planning program."
When he first joined the Department of Health in 1998, the family planning program was in a state of suspension, as it was just doing what it had done in the past. This lack of aggressiveness in implementing the program is seen especially in the present government administration. Romualdez said that "a good basis for governing for the poor should be a strong family planning program. "
As DOH secretary he saw population growth creating tremendous pressures on the country’s resources. "With the present population growth rate, 2 million people are added each year. That means the DOH would have to prepare resources and facilities that would take care of the additional 2 million people yearly." He mentioned that the Philippines is now already behind in the availability of quality services for the poorest of our people. Dr. Romualdez has been actively promoting family planning. He is currently the Vice President of The Forum for Family Planning and Development.
Dr. Alberto Romualdez joins other panelists in Usapang POPDev held on August 13, 2008.
Dr. Alberto Romualdez joins other guests during the launch of the Catholic for RH Speak Out! Movement