Official Publication of the Philippine Information Agency Bicol Regional Office, in cooperation with the RIAC-REDIRAS - RDC Bicol

Friday, September 11, 2015

Interfaith dialogue highlights key issues on RPRH Law

SORSOGON CITY, September 11, 2015 (PIA) – “Promoting human dignity is respecting, protecting and fulfilling reproductive rights.”

This is the very core message conveyed by the Catholics for Reproductive Health (C4RH) during the Interfaith Forum and Dialogue conducted on September 10, 2015 at The Lewis College, this city, participated in by students, church-based organizations, women organizations, media and government agency representatives.

C4RH is a movement whose mission is to organize and support fellow Filipino Catholics in understanding, appreciating and promoting Reproductive Health as a right.

It organizes series of interfaith forum and dialogue under the over-all topic “Finding Common Grounds: An Interfaith Dialogue on Gender, Sexuality, and Spirituality towards Life with Dignity”.

According to C4RH executive director Luz Francess Chua, the forum cum dialogue aimed at bringing the participants into reflection on the teachings and traditions on gender, sexuality, and development in one’s search for human life with dignity; how it relate to the issue on Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law or RA 10354; and find common grounds on how each one would take stand as Community of Believers and improve one life’s situation.

She said the insights that were drawn from the forum/dialogue will be used to inspire faith-based organizations to focus on common grounds and that more collaborative efforts in addressing gender and sexuality concerns in society and in one’s respective faith and spiritual communities will be explored.

Forum speaker Dr. Junice Lirga Melgar, secretariat of the National Implementing Team of the RPRH Law and Executive Director of Likhaan discussed the topic on Gender and how it affects the RPRH Law. Her presentation showed the top 5 major Reproductive Health (RH) problems in the Philippines to include maternal mortality, unintended pregnancy, teen pregnancy, HIV and AIDS, and Gender-based violence especially domestic and sexual violence.

Melgar said these problems are preventable and the government has a lot of solutions to address these saying one of which is the passage of the RPRH Law, but, on the other hand, disappointed by the realities evident in the communities such as acceptance of violence as okay, women’s disempowerment, lack of preventive mechanisms, inadequate information and life skills and poor enforcement of the law.

Atty. Jihan Jacob, fellow of the Center for Reproductive Rights, defined some provisions in the RPRH Law that were considered unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and the RH Law from the human rights perspective.

According to her, reproductive right is human right. What has been written in the constitution has been affirmed by the RH Law citing Article II sec 2 and Article XIII sec 1 of the Philippine Constitution.

Unconstitutional provisions in the RH Law include third party authorization where spousal and parental consent for certain RH services and procedures may be required; conscientious objectors are exempted from performing certain RH services and procedures; health care providers who fail or refuse to disseminate information regarding RH programs and services regardless of his/her religious beliefs are not liable; and public officials who fail to support RH programs or do any act to hinder the implementation of the law are not liable.

Rev. Erahvilla Maga-Cabillas, IFI the Parish Priest of UP Holy Cross Parish underscored in her discussion Life In Its Totality: Gift, Responsibility and Commitment, and likewise presented the Life’s Ultimate Goals based from inter-faith perspective.

During the Open Forum, DILG Sorsogon representative Ms. Conchie Galeria said there is a need to strengthen the Information, Education and Communication Campaign specifically particularly in the communities to better understand the content of the Responsible Parenthood Reproductive Health Law. “The DILG is committed to support the national government’s agenda but there must be clearer explanations as to the role of the major key players like that of the national government agencies, the DILG, the LGUs and those supporting the advocacy.

Media representative Alice Lopez of Sorsogon Guardian said responsible parenthood must be given emphasis in the advocacy and suggests for an establishment of counseling centers in the communities i.e. in the barangays where the teen-agers can easily access least they have reproductive health concerns and problems.

DOH Bicol Representative Dr. Lita Ang calls on support from the participants to help them in making the public understand the key concepts of the RPRH Law and in looking for service providers so that the intended health services including that of the reproductive health, under the law, must be provided to the members of the community in need. (MAL/BAR-PIA5/Sorsogon)

- See more at: http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/801441971331/interfaith-dialogue-highlights-key-issues-on-rprh-law#sthash.7MOZ8qxN.dpuf

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