By Pet Melliza/ The Beekeeper
Mr. Hole of Justice aka Peter Jimenea was warming himself over bottles of beer last Friday when he nearly fell off the bench as the evening TV flashed live coverage of the 40,000-strong rally at the Luneta Park against the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill.
I could not understand why they call themselves “pro-life” and the RH Bill “pro-abortion”. Even their Sanhedrin haven’t laid their hands, much less, eyes on the measure that merely echoes the country’s commitment to the international community in the “millennium development goal” (MDG) of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Peter is dismayed P-Noy seems to balk from the noises of the hierarchy that arrogates upon itself the title “The Church”.
“P-Noy is caving in and that’s expected; he owes it to the bishops’ for the rise to power by his mother (Cory Aquino in 1986) and for himself in the May 2010,” he explains.
Rep. Janette Loreto Garin (Lakas, 1st District, Iloilo) author of the bill, deserves support for being steadfast in pushing for the measure.
Under the UNFPA – MDG, the Philippines commits to improve the quality of life of its people. Among its specifics are reduction of maternity and infant deaths, and sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) notably HIV-AIDS, and increasing the people’s access to safe water and sanitary toilets, among others.
The RH Bill is an attempt to address high maternity and infant deaths and sexually transmitted diseases like HIV-AIDS. Nowhere in the document is there a provision that promotes abortion. Rather, it seeks to empower people, particularly, women, giving them access to information to make informed decisions, and contraceptives to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy and STDs.
Anti-RH Bill advocates threaten excommunication on solons voting for the bill but Hole of Justice is unrepentant. “Excommunicate me!” he writes.
Jimenea calls the Philippines “small but terrible,” for having 95 million people in its area of only 33 million hectares, where poverty is rampant and as glaring as scenes of families of many scrawny kids crowding under bridges and danger zones like riverbanks and railroads tracks.
The Maternal and Neonatal Program Index (MNPI), funded by USAID, reports that 500,000 women and girls worldwide die yearly from complications related to childbirth and pregnancy. Developing countries like the Philippines account for 99 percent of that.
Further, for every woman or girl dying from childbirth or pregnancy-related diseases, 20 to 30 others will develop “short- and long-term disabilities like obstetric fistula, a ruptured uterus, or pelvic inflammatory disease”.
The Philippines’ record in maternal mortality is at an “unacceptably high level”, reads the MNPI report. Some 4,100 to 4,900 Filipino women and girls die yearly from pregnancy and childbirth related complications.
“Additionally, another 82,000 to 147,000 Filipino women and girls will suffer from disabilities caused by complications during pregnancy and childbirth each year”, it adds.
The UNFPA bewails that the Philippines is not making “any progress” in meeting the MDG. Some 230 Filipino women die in every 100,000 live births, compared with 110 in Thailand, 62 in Malaysia and 14 in Singapore, from haemorrhage, sepsis, obstructed labour, hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, and complications of unsafe abortion – most of which are preventable with proper diagnosis and intervention, health specialists said.
The NSO reports that 160 women died in 2006 out of 100,000 childbirths, an improvement though over the 1993 record of 209. The Philippines aims to lower maternal deaths to 90 by 2010. It has not released the 2010 data.
Meanwhile, 24 in every 1,000 Filipino infants die on childbirth in 2006. The record is better than 1998 with 35, and closer to the 2010 target of 17. The NSO is yet to release the 2010 statistics.
Further, 32 Filipino kids in every 1,000 die before reaching five years old.
Yes, Hole of Justice, thousands of Filipino women, girls, babies and children are now dying from ailments that can be lowered, if not prevented, by giving people access to information and family planning methods to reach informed decisions and preventing unwanted pregnancy.
The medieval church hierarchy is yet to know that. And we need not wait for it to see the light.