Implement RH Law now!

Privilege speech
06 March 2017

Implement RH Law now!

By Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano
Representative, 2nd District, Taguig City

Honorable Speaker, distinguished members of this House and our guests gathered here today, good afternoon.

I rise today on a matter of personal and collective privilege.

As we celebrate Women’s Month here in the House of Representatives, outside these august halls, millions of Filipino women and girls continue to suffer because of the prolonged denial of access to reproductive health services and information.

Consider the following:
– Women who want to be responsible parents and limit the number of children they have so that they can provide better for their family. I have met women from all over the country many of them with seven, eight, nine, ten children. Many of them live in poverty. They tell me their stories, their desire to have – wish to have access to family planning – but because they not, they end up having kids they love but cannot feed.

– Then, there are women of childbearing age who have serious health issues and should not get pregnant. And yet, they still become pregnant and they risk their lives every time they get pregnant. But this would not happen if they have access to family planning.

– Then, there are the women who end up having an abortion because they did not want to get pregnant but had no access to family planning. They have such sad stories to tell. They made painful difficult choices that they would not have had to make if they had access to family planning.

– And then we have our high rate of teen pregnancies, these are teen age girls who should be in school. Instead, they are forced to become mothers when they can barely take care of themselves.

All these result in higher maternal and infant mortality rates, higher rates of abortion and other sexually transmitted diseases, and young women who will never reach their full potential. This is just a small picture of the millions of women whose lives are drastically changed because of the lack of access to reproductive health supplies.

Our President is a known supporter and original advocate of access to reproductive health since he was mayor in Davao City. He has recognized the plight of women and has thrown his support behind the full implementation of the RH law.

Congress has likewise supported the 2017 budget for RH with the full support of our Speaker, the Hon. Pantaleon Alvarez.

But in the meantime, the government’s ability to fully implement the RH law is delayed yet again because the Supreme Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order which effectively restricts the Food and Drug Administration from doing its job – granting the certifications needed for the procurement and distribution of the much needed family planning products and supplies.

Madame Speaker, my dear colleagues, today, I am here to amplify the voice of millions of Filipino women and girls, many of whom are among us here at the galleries, outside, in our homes, in our districts. I call on each one of you my dear colleagues, to open our eyes to the plight of these women and girls. They are all around us, in our district, in our barangays. Hear them out. This is not about your religious beliefs or preferences. This is about their access to a basic right – the right to health, in this case reproductive health. Thank you. #

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