Bohol Congressman Attacks Reproductive Health (RH) Bill

By JUNE S. BLANCO

Rep. Erico Aumentado (2nd District, Bohol) has exposed House Bill No. 4244, popularly known as the RH Bill, as unconstitutional, inherently infirm, and redundant as it is covered already by 15 laws and executive issuances.

The solon bared his strong opposition against the RH bill during his three-hour interpellation and debate on the controversial measure with Minority Leader Edcel Lagman, the principal author.

The debate between Lagman and Aumentado started Tuesday night and ended Wednesday night, despite the house rules which provide for only a one-hour interpellation.

Aumentado said the bill is unconstitutional as it contravenes the constitutional provision which states that the State "shall equally protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn – from conception" because according to scientific studies especially by the United Nations International Agency research on cancer by 21 scientists, contraceptives are carcinogenic –causing cervix, breast and liver cancer, and stroke also, among others.

He also said using contraceptives and intra-uterine devices (IUDs) has imperilled not only the lives of the unborn child but also puts the child at risk of physical deformities and abilities such as being autistic, Mongoloid, harelip, cross-eyed, bow-legged and others that place them at a disadvantage to those who are being born without contraceptives and IUDs.

Aumentado argued that the life of the unborn starts from conception, that is, the fertilization of the ovum, and therefore any abortifacient contraceptive that could cause the expulsion of the child puts the latter at risk of being expelled from the womb of the mother, and therefore violates the constitutional command to protect the unborn starting from its conception.

The other constitutional reason cited by the Bohol legislator as being violated is the provision on the equal protection of the law because the RH bill is biased against the Catholic's accepted birth management, the the natural rhythm method and the Billings ovulation method developed by John and Evelyn Billings with 99.5% effectiveness as validated by the World Health Organization.

Aumentado explained that the bias is clearly shown by the appropriation of ₱3 billion in the General Appropriations Act which would be the starting fund of the RH bill once approved into a law.

He debunked the claim of the bill sponsors that half of the appropriation will be used to promote the Billings ovulation method by citing that the proposed outlay supporting the bill and the government program on reproductive health, family planning, responsible parenting, and the overall target for population control is overwhelmingly for the use of contraceptives, IUDs and condoms which could only fatten the bank accounts of multi-national pharmaceutical companies.

He further said there is no need of depopulating the Philippines because according to the National Statistics Coordinating Board (NSCB), the trend of the population growth rate has been declining since 2000. In fact, he said, the National Statistics Office analyzed in 2007 that the growth rate of the country is projected to be 1.81% lower than those Lagman cited from 2010 to 2015; 1.64% from 2015 to 2020 and 1.46% for 2020 to 2025.

He also said the NSO study debunks the other claim that the average Filipino household size is 10 or more and will increase without the RH Law. He said the NSO data shows the average household size has been declining even without the RH Law. The household size in 2007 was 4.8% persons lower than the average household size of five persons in 2000.

A heated exchange took place between Aumentado and Lagman when the Bohol solon said the mantra of family planning has been dictated by the United States of America's program to underdeveloped countries as brought out by the report of then State Secretary Kissinger. The mantra on reproductive health, where no less than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, is "Reproductive health necessarily includes abortion," and that there is strong lobby for the passage of the RH Bill into law.

Lagman, per records, vehemently denied the charge, saying that the bill is crafted by Filipino authors without any influence from any foreign power and that there is no lobby to speak of. In fact, he said bluntly, there is no proof of such lobby.

A passionate debate also ensued on the impact of population on poverty. Lagman contended that the Philippines' overpopulation is responsible for the country's very low rating in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Index (HDI) Report.