‘Barangay officials face sanctions if they implement RH ordinance’
Tina Santos / Philippine Daily Inquirer/ February 28, 2011
MANILA, Philippines—Officials of Barangay Ayala Alabang in Muntinlupa City face either suspension or dismissal from their posts should they insist on enforcing a controversial ordinance opposing the Reproductive Health (RH) bill, Mayor Aldrin San Pedro told the Inquirer on Monday.
“Based on the Local Government Code, enforcing the ordinance, which has not yet been approved by the city council, is enough grounds for sanctions,” he said.
“There are certain procedural lapses that still need to be sorted out,” San Pedro added. “But what is clear is that the ordinance cannot be enforced at this point.”
Under Barangay Ordinance No. 1, also known as the “Protection of the Unborn Child Ordinance of 2011,” a person who wants to buy contraceptives from stores in the area should first present a prescription from a doctor.
The city council, however, remanded it to the barangay level, citing some portions that may be seen as an infringement of human rights. It also asked the barangay officials, through a letter, to clarify certain provisions.
“But they did not respond to it. Apparently, they [will] just let the 30-day period pass, probably thinking of the rule that an ordinance [will] lapse into law if the city council does not act on it. But how could the city council have acted on it if they did not respond to the letter it sent to them in the first place?” San Pedro said.
According to him, the ordinance must be reviewed and approved by the city council first before it can take effect.
“It has also [affected] the [performance] of our barangay health workers who are supposed to be implementing programs on family planning,” San Pedro added.
The mayor said he had called for a meeting with the barangay officials this week “to sort things out.”
The Inquirer tried to reach Barangay Ayala Alabang chair Alfred Burgos for comment but was told by a member of his staff that he was in a meeting.
©2011 www.inquirer.net all rights reserved
Another good read below.
At Large : The ‘unhappy wife’ speaks
By Rina Jimenez-David / Columnist / Philippine Daily Inquirer/
Posted date: February 28, 2011
“YOU’RE LIKE a wife who feels constantly insecure about her husband’s love, and keeps nagging him to declare how much he loves her,” kidded Health Secretary Enrique Ona at the end of a dialogue between some members of the Aquino Cabinet and representatives of CSOs or civil society organizations.
The Aquino officials present at the dialogue were Ona, Social Welfare Secretary Dinky Soliman, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda and Philippine Commission on Women Chair Remmy Rikken.
The dialogue was arranged in response to several calls for President Benigno Aquino III to engage in dialogue with women’s groups and reproductive health NGOs, most of which are supportive of the pending Reproductive Health/Responsible Parenthood Bills in the House and Senate. This in the wake of a series of dialogues between Malacañang representatives and representatives of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines which, so the CSO representatives said, “privileged” a sector of Philippine society to the detriment of other sectors whose interests are at stake in the issue under discussion.
Coincidentally, the Malacañang-CSOs dialogue took place just a day after the Philippine bishops announced that they were “indefinitely” backing out of the next dialogue with Malacañang, arguing that the “quick” passage of the RH Bill through the House (now about to begin floor debates) and Senate (the consolidated bill is being put together by a technical working group) made any more discussions moot and academic.
But in the view of Ben de Leon of The Forum on Family Planning and Development, when they issued a Pastoral Letter condemning the RH Bill, the bishops effectively “closed the door on any dialogue.”
* * *
WELL, if one door has been slammed shut, another door has opened.
At the dialogue, held at the Presidential Management Staff building, Lacierda, Ona and Soliman assured everyone that, in Soliman’s words, “all of us before you are on your side.” Even President Aquino, added Lacierda, has not budged from the position he took during the campaign that he supported “responsible parenthood,” a position that in fact caused much controversy and led the bishops to distance themselves from him. And in his remarks during the MDG Summit in New York, the President “courted controversy,” Lacierda noted, when he assured the world that he supported moves to “provide access to all information to all kinds of family planning methods, natural or artificial.”
Soliman, for her part, assured that “responsible parenthood/reproductive health remains a priority” with the President, who additionally “sees the relationship between poverty and population.” “He’s already in tune with you,” added Lacierda.
There was some uneasiness among the CSOs present when they heard Lacierda mention that Malacañang was backing out of submitting a “responsible parenthood bill” which allegedly would have been among the bills certified as urgent during Monday’s LEDAC meeting.
Ona clarified that he had read a draft of the so-called “consensus bill” prepared largely by business organizations and that he told President Aquino that most of the provisions of this bill were already to be found in the consolidated bill to be debated by the House.
My take on this part of the discussion was that, since the original RH bills were proceeding apace in the House and the Senate, Malacañang felt there was no longer any need to certify a Malacañang-originated bill.
* * *
SOME CSO representatives, though, felt the President’s “imprimatur,” to borrow an ecclesiastical term, would still be helpful to convince those legislators still straddling both sides of the fence to vote in favor of the RH Bill.
The appearance of a President “vacillating” between his support for reproductive health and withdrawing that support tended to bolster the claim of the bishops that they held Malacañang in the palm of their hands, some of the CSO representatives said. But to this Soliman countered that this was an impression created largely by media and that civil society had to work harder to make “other voices” heard, “voices other than the Church,” voices reflective of the views of women, communities and of other faiths.
Ramon San Pascual, executive director of the Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development, took the opportunity to announce to the group that the House committee on rules had just passed debates in the committee on appropriations and that the bill would soon be debated on the floor for the period of interpellation and amendments. At the same time, he argued the need “for the President to have a very clear mind about the issue of reproductive health, especially since the country has only four years to ensure that it meets commitments to MDGs 4,5,6, if it doesn’t want to be embarrassed before the world."
* * *
DID the “neglected wife” leave the dialogue reassured of the “husband’s” continuing love?
Well, in the first place, there shouldn’t be a reason for the wife to feel neglected, should there? And in the second place, if, as the President has declared, that “you [meaning the people] are my boss,” then he should be aware that the Filipino people have long made clear where their sentiments lie, and what their opinion is regarding reproductive health.
Mr. President, please read through the results of public opinion polls over the last two decades and the Maternal and Demographic Health Surveys of recent years. You will read there what your bosses think about the right of every man and woman to decide freely and effectively on their reproductive lives. Listen, read, absorb and understand—and you needn’t have an “unhappy” wife clamoring for your attention.