September 3, 2008

An effective population management is the road to development. This is not a myth, but a hard fact that has been the subject of numerous researches and studies which revealed that rapid population growth has an adverse impact on economic development. It is also a fact that the very core of a sound population control lies in the implementation of a sustainable family planning program capable of providing much-needed information and supplies to those who need these.

Beyond the glaring indicators related to the current state of reproductive health in the Philippines: the high maternal mortality rate, the rising number of abortion, the increasing child mortality, the growing number of people without access to basic health and social services, there lies one solution that the country has been trying to ignore – and that is the implementation of a Reproductive Health Law that will enable each Filipino to be accorded the right to information, the right to choose how many children to have and when to have them.

The Forum for Family Planning and Development join hands with other NGOS in expressing our strong support for the urgent passage of the bill on Reproductive Health. The measure goes beyond its purpose of improving reproductive health and implementing a nationwide program on family planning as it creates a path towards a sound economic policy that will improve the lives of millions of Filipino households.

We strongly believe that couples, especially women, should be given the freedom to choose the path they will take in raising their family. This is a commitment our country made several times. We affirmed this right in 1968, during the International Year for Human Rights where United Nations Member States recognized the right of individuals and couples to decide their family size. In August 1981, the Philippines ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) which clearly upholds women’s right to reproductive health services and education. And in 1995, we again made a promise to the rest of the world to provide our people with access to reproductive health services when we signed the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action and the Beijing Conference on Women Programme of Action.

We have been waiting for decades for our country to honor its commitments to the world – to make real its promise to uphold our people’s right to reproductive health and family planning. While we have waited and debated for decades on the matter, our women and young girls have been suffering and thousands have lost their lives - 10 women are dying every 24 hours due to pregnancy related complications, while young girls as young as 13 years old are getting pregnant. This because they lack the information and family planning supplies that would have provided them with an option.

We need to join hands for this national legislation that will bring tremendous improvements in the lives of our people. This is not about politics or religion. This is about believing that each one of us should have the chance to live a healthy and dignified life, a human right that must be upheld regardless of one’s faith and belief.

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