Pop Quiz: The Candidates’ Take on Population

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What do the candidates say about our population?

What do the candidates say about our population?

By Patricia Vega

The 2010 campaign season has seen population and reproductive health as top-of-mind issues for the voting public. Despite pronouncements from the Catholic Church to discourage voters from candidates supporting the Reproductive Health Bill (RA 5043 in its current incarnation), a recent Social Weather Station Survey shows that 38% of voters will throw their support behind such candidates, while only 6% would vote against pro-RH politicians. If only the candidates were as forthcoming. At this point in the campaign, none of the presidentiables have explicitly expressed support for the RH bill per se, with the candidates equally divided on their stands.

Former president Joseph Erap Estrada of Pwersa ng Masa cites the need to curb the population and — in his recently released platform of government — has expressed support for the passing of a Reproductive Health Bill during his term.

Liberal Party standard-bearer Sen. Noynoy Aquino fully supports the crafting of a population policy and is open to reviewing the RH bill. He wishes to interpellate the provision of a hospital budget for contraceptives, as this might lead some hospital staff into pushing people for contraceptives instead of offering them a choice. Otherwise, he believes that there is a need for an RH Bill and for a morally-sound sex education curriculum delivered by responsible educators.

Bangon Pilipinas’s Eddie Villanueva, and independent candidate Nicanor Perlas propose conditional support for the bill. Villanueva and Perlas call for a review of the bill and a stakeholders’ dialogue respectively, to ensure that it addresses all concerns. Both favor artificial methods as well, provided they are not abortifacients.

Three presidential candidates have expressly voiced their anti-RH Bill stance. JC De los Reyes cites Ang Kapatiran‘s moral platform, and will only support natural family planning and responsible parenthood. Lakas-CMD-Kampi standard bearer Gibo Teodoro notes that he never formally supported the RH Bill while he was in Congress, though he has considered supporting both then and now; with the acrimonious debate surrounding the bill, he has since decided to support freedom of choice — for couples to decide how to plan their family, and for schools to include sex education in their curriculum. Also identifying himself as a pro-lifer, Nacionalista Party’s Manny Villar has said that he is against the RH Bill; he favors proper values teaching, but does not agree with compulsory sex education.

The remaining candidates are non-committal, but nonetheless have made statements regarding the issue of population. Sen. Richard Gordon of Bagumbayan does not mention his personal stand, but insists that the RH Bill will not be approved; he is, however, in favor of sex education in schools. Independent candidate Sen. Jamby Madrigal is also in favor of sex education, but opposes government spending on contraception, as it is a possible source of corruption.

Among the senatorial candidates, however, there seem to be more pro-RH Bill candidates. The Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development has compiled a list of candidates’ positions on the RH Bill, based on official Congress documents — whether they co-authored the bill, or signed the report; their actions during session deliberations; media statements; and previous positions on reproductive health. (List follows below):

PLCPD list of senatoriables' stands on RH

PLCPD list of senatoriables' stands on RH

References: PLCPD list of senatoriables’ stands on RH

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