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joint statement of ateneo and UP professors : Pass The RH Bill Now

March 25, 2011 4 comments

PASS THE RH BILL NOW
Statement of individual faculty
of the University of the Philippines and the Ateneo de Manila University
in support of HB 4244,“
An Act Providing for a Comprehensive Policy on Responsible Parenthood,
Reproductive Health, and Population and Development, and for Other Purposes”
We, the undersigned faculty of the University of the Philippines and the Ateneo de Manila University, in our individual capacities as educators and scholars from various academic disciplines,declare our strong support for the consolidated reproductive health bill (House Bill 4244) and urge its immediate passage in Congress. We issue this statement because we see the need for our active engagement in social issues, believing as we do that the academe has a distinct role to play in achieving social justice and national development.
We have read House Bill 4244 on “Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health, and Population and Development” currently filed in the House of Representatives and have kept abreast of the on going debates. Many of us have been working on reproductive health and its related issues, some of us for decades. We have undertaken our own studies (literature reviews and analysis, policy studies, empirical researches, etc.) on reproductive health. Many of us have also participated in legislative processes such as public hearings and technical working groups.
Our studied and collective opinion is that House Bill 4244 is a vital piece of legislation. Its passage will mandate policies which will save women’s and men’s lives, improve infant survival, enhance young people’s health and well-being, and enable couples and individuals to make responsible decisions in planning their families. We also endorse this bill as a necessary element to achieve the goals of social equity, poverty reduction, and national development. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that these goals can be achieved without resorting to population control. Our reading of HB 4244 is that it is not a population control bill, nor does it violate any other rights and freedoms. HB 4244 in fact promotes the sexual and reproductive rights, the right to health, and the right to informed decision making of all Filipinos but especially the poor, in fulfillment of the provisions of our Constitution and our obligations under international covenants. The passage of a national and comprehensive law will also guarantee budgetary support from the national government for reproductive health initiatives and ensure their implementation by local government units, regardless of the vagaries of national and local leadership.
We are issuing this statement because we wish to support those legislators who rely on scientific evidence when they craft legislative proposals or decide how to vote. Their endorsement of HB 4244 is an encouraging example of progressive legislation that is necessary to national development.
In this light, we feel the need to comment on the way science has been misused by those who oppose this bill. We have seen the misrepresentation of easily verifiable information, such as the actual text of the proposed bill. We have witnessed the misuse of outdated studies, data that have already been disproven, or studies that cannot be replicated to support what are merely ideological positions. One example that is particularly dangerous is the lie that condoms do not protect against sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS. There have also been those who misrepresent extremist positions as the prevailing consensus of the scientific community. This evidence-based consensus, however, does support the provision of reproductive health services that include contraceptive access and sexuality education.It also supports the services for adolescents and children that HB 4244 mandates.

We are concerned over reports that teachers offer incentives, such as bonus points, for students to make anti-RH statements or engage in anti-RH activities. We welcome disparate opinions as necessary to the vitality of any scholarly community.

Thus, we believe that it is an abuse of our role as value formators to dictate the political actions of our students in this way. We denounce any such violations of our duties to inculcate critical thinking and respect our students’ right to their own opinions.We denounce this, regardless of whether the teacher is for or against the RH Bill.

We caution our people to be more critical of the data and opinions presented to them and find out the truth for themselves. We are heartened by polls that show that most Filipinos know of the bill and support it, and in so doing have shown their capacity for enlightened citizenship.

Together with the legislators who have proven themselves worthy of their mandate by their support for the bill, we reiterate our full and unequivocal endorsement of HB 4244 and call for its immediate enactment into law.

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