THE FORUM FOR FAMILY PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT, INC.
Reference: Benjamin De Leon, President, 0917-5857952
Chi Laigo-Vallido, Advocacy Specialist, 0918-9443850
There is no better time to pass the RH bill than now - The Forum
Times are getting harder and life has become more difficult. Too many indicators point to the fact that life is not getting better for Filipino families. In fact, the number of people going hungry has risen that the Philippines is now among the list of countries with the highest incidence of hunger.
A global hunger survey, “Voice of the People” conducted by Gallup International showed that the Philippines ranked fifth in the world with 4 in every 10 poor Filipinos going hungry in the last 12 months. The survey found that 40% of the Filipino respondents were found to have expeirenced hunger or an empty stomach in late 2007 to the present. The Gallup survey covered 55 countries with more than 58,600 respondents during the period June and early September 2008. In total, the poll represented the views of more than 1.5 billion global citizens.
The Philippines was categorized with African and Asian countries whose poor said they went hungry in the past year. Cameroon topped the list at 55%, followed closely by Pakistan at 53% while Nigeria came third at 48%, Peru at 42% and Philippines at 40%. In the no.. 6 and 7 slots were Bolivia and Guatemala, Ghana was no. 8 while Mexico was no. 9 and Russia at no. 10.
“This is an alarming condition for the Philippines. Based on this global survey, which has been also attested by other similar surveys conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS), the number of people experiencing hunger has been on the rise. With this condition, there is a need for more government resources to be directed to programs to alleviate hunger,” according to Benjamin D. De Leon, President of The Forum for Family Planning and Development, Inc. or The Forum. De Leon also noted an earlier survey conducted by the SWS that showed 3.3 million Filipino families suffering from hunger in the last three quarters. The survey was conducted from September 24 to 27, 2008. The SWS poll also found that the hunger rate is higher in Metro Manila.
The National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB) also reported that the number of poor Filipinos in 2006 rose by almost 4 million at 27.6 million or 32.9% of the population, as compared to the 2003 levels when the number of poor Filipinos stood at 23.8 million.
The Forum has been urging for the passage of House Bill (HB) 2043 or the "Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development Act of 2008". Along with other organizations, The Forum has been pushing the measure as an urgent one to help poor Filipinos to receive information on reproductive health and family planning methods for free, as well as make available family planning supplies. The bill is still pending but Congress has vowed to act on it before the year ends.
“We believe that poor families would benefit from this important piece of legislation as it will give them the much-needed accurate information to plan the number of children they will have and properly space them. This will enable them to prepare for their children’s future, and provide for their needs, especially food. We have seen a lot of people – mostly children – of large families go hungry because their meager income cannot buy sufficient food. With a smaller family, it would be easier to provide for their needs,” stressed De Leon.
The salient features of House Bill (HB) 2043 or the "Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development Act of 2008" include: the implementation of a mandatory age-appropriate reproductive health education; the purchase and distribution of contraceptives, medicines and supplies by state hospitals; a requiement for the local government units to employ an adequate number of midwives or attendants for a ratio of one for every 150 deliveries per year; and the provision of emergency obstetric care and health care services as well as regular maternal death review, among others. Albay Rep. Edcel C. Lagman (1st district) is the principal author of the bill. NGOs, well-known celebrities and personalities, as well as legislators have shown their support during the plenary sessions held to deliberate on the merits of the bill.. ###