April 29, 2008
Reproductive rights advocates encourage Ecop to provide family planning services in its entire membership
The initiatives of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) of providing family planning program in the workplace is as important as other benefits a worker could get amid the continuing increase in the price of the staple and other basic commodities and the continuous increase in population.
This was the reaction given by The Forum for Family Planning and Development, Tuesday at the monthly Usapang PopDev (Population and Development) at Annabels restaurant with the theme “Business Sectors Initiative: Caring for employees health through a family planning program in the workplace.”
Benjamin De Leon, President of The Forum said the employers population management initiative is a welcome move citing that they should help non-government organizations in advocating reproductive health programs to ensure the health and safety of their employees and become more productive.
“Employees are as important as the clients. They (employees) are businesses right hand in creating progress and ignoring their health and welfare would only mean bad business. We deemed it fair, and we greatly support employer's initiative for programs such as reproductive health services,” said De Leon .
He however clarified that implementing such programs should not waive a workers right to a decent wage. “We still believe that such benefits should not be an excuse for employers to put aside workers clamor for a livable wage. For what is a health program for when workers don't have enough in their pockets to sustain a healthy life.”
De Leon challenged other members of ECOP to implement and include the reproductive health services as part of their benefits not only for the health and safety but also delay the continuing growth in population.
Under Article 134 of the Labor Law, businesses that employ 200 or more should provide employees with family planning, dental services, emergency clinics and other health services, ECOP, an umbrella of more than 400 businesses, advocates expanding the clinic offerings to include reproductive health services.
In May 2005, ECOP under the leadership of Donald Dee, passed a resolution at the 24th National Conference of Employers establishing a family welfare committee under their Corporate Social Responsibility Division wherein part of business revenues will be devoted to fund reproductive health services.
The Arroyo government has shunned calls from reproductive rights advocates for a comprehensive national policy on population management due to strong opposition from the Catholic Church.
“We are glad that the business sector is on our side and see the importance of such programs as the country's population is now pegged at 88.57 million as of August 2007,” stressed De Leon. ###