MANILA — The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said on Tuesday they fully support President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s order on full-scale implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RPRH) Law or Republic Act No. 10354 to allow parents to plan and space births of their children.
DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said that in line with that, she will issue a department order to ensure that reproductive health concerns will also be addressed in all the programs currently being implemented by the agency.
“I will order that all DSWD Field Offices in the country as well as units of the DSWD that promote its different programs continue to make reproductive health concerns a part of such programs, including the 4Ps (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program),” she said.
“Maternal and infant health care will be taught in the areas where the DSWD has its programs, and we will work together with the Department of Health (DOH) and various local government units (LGUs) to promote the same,” the DSWD Chief added.
She also said that the agencies directly responsible for the RPRH Law implementation should focus on ensuring that Filipino women and children get improved and greater access to correct information on reproductive health, free reproductive healthcare and other health services.
“Poor Filipino women need a national policy on genuine, pro-poor, and comprehensive health care so that they will have the basis from which to assert their right to proper health care,” she stressed.
She said that as part of doing that, they will maximize the 4Ps Family Development Sessions (FDS) and the Parent Effectiveness Sessions as venues to discuss the benefits of the RH Law.
“We want Filipino women and children to be healthier and to live longer, more productive lives. The RH Law’s orientation should be geared towards improving their health conditions, not controlling the population. Filipinos stand to benefit infinitely more from information and programs that promote self-care, good nutrition, and overall health, rather than to limit information on contraceptives,” she said.
Secretary Taguiwalo said that she will also ensure that in the implementation of the programs of DSWD, couples, families and young people will be given information and access to reproductive health services so that they can make informed choices.
The DSWD Chief said that the law can help a lot in the current concern on the rise in number of teenage pregnancies and teenage motherhood.
Meanwhile, Elizabeth Angsioco, national chair of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines (DSWP), said that if couples can plan and space the number of their children as what RPRH aims, they can have more time to pursue other activities that can bring them better opportunities in their pursuit for a better life.
DSWP is one of the organizations that led the advocacy for the RPRH passage by the Congress.
Angsioco said that with a well-planned family, the poor parents or couples can have the option to get involved into income-earning opportunities or resume their studies and attract better opportunities as they level up.
She added that in contrast, if the couples will not be given the informed choice and access to family planning commodities, unplanned pregnancies can result.
“Unplanned pregnancies can result to big number of children which the couples cannot properly feed with the nutritional requirements which can result to stunting and other social-ills…If DSWD intends to create a dent on the number of poor families, they should also instill support for the proper and immediate implementation of RPRH Law,” she said.
She also said that depriving poor families of the choice can result to unwanted pregnancies which can then lead to abortions, especially among those who lack the knowledge on the use of family planning methods wherein they can have the freedom to choose what form of family planning that they can use which is suitable for them.
Some family planning options include natural and artificial methods.
Worst, consequences of having many children happen when some parents cannot track their children’s conditions and sometimes it is too late for them to realize that their children become victims of drug addiction, human trafficking, prostitution and criminal acts because they are not properly guided.
Another sad consequence is increase in the number of school dropouts which can possibly repeat the same cycle of poverty once they have their own families.
In addition, unplanned pregnancies because of lack of access to family planning options is also dangerous among the young mothers in the country or those dealing with “teen pregnancy” problems.
“Lives and future of these teenagers, if not given the informed choice or accessed RH or family planning commodities, can result to different negative consequences, including repeated pregnancies,” observed Klaus Beck, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Country Representative in the Philippines.
Beck said there is danger in terms of possibly dying during child birth because the reproductive body of young girls is not yet prepared for pregnancy and usually the young girls are discriminated and receive stigma when they approach health centers.
“If allowed in that sad state of getting tied to the cycle of repeated pregnancies, these young mothers’ future will be at stake and they will have no chance to move up to a higher level and finish their high school and college studies,” Beck said in an interview with the Philippines News Agency.
He said that allowing the teen mothers without any informed choice and access to RPRH services that they can choose from limit their chance to contribute to the economic development as a workforce of the country.
The implementation of the RPRH Law is part of the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development Goals.
The appeal for the immediate implementation of RPRH Law was widely aired by its advocates prior to the May 9, 2016 national elections as they got bothered with different obstacles faced by the law which was passed in 2012.
While R.A. 10354 was declared constitutional by the Supreme Court in 2014, still the battle was not over because a lot of obstacles were even faced in its implementation such as the High Court’s issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) on the use of Implants (Implanon NXT) in June 2015.
As a result, the DOH hands are tied in terms of providing the said family planning commodity because they have to follow the TRO and let the stocks remain in their warehouses while they continue to ask for the lifting of the TRO.
The TRO also restrains the DOH’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from granting and approving applications for distribution of reproductive family planning products and supplies.
Aside from that, a cut on the budget of the DOH for Family Planning Commodities was also implemented last December 2015. Leilani Junio/ PNA/ northboundasia.com