Rep. Edcel C. Lagman said that he and his fellow reproductive health advocates in Congress unequivocally laud and fully support the initiative of Health Secretary Esperanza I. Cabral for government to “give contraceptive pills to interested couples.”
Lagman, the principal author of House Bill No. 5043 on Reproductive Health and Population Development, stressed that the plan of Cabral is consistent with the freedom of informed choice on which the RH bill is firmly anchored.
The RH bill provides that the State upholds and promotes the right to informed choice and that “the freedom of informed choice, which is central to the exercise of any right, must be fully guaranteed by the State.”
Nature abhors excesses, like an inordinate population growth rate which exacerbates climate change and the deterioration of the environment.
The recent tragic flooding of many areas in Metro Manila and the provinces attests to this verity.
A smaller population would avoid (1) habitation of river banks and conversion of former river beds into residential subdivisions; (2) minimize the volume of solid waste which clog waterways and drainage systems; and (3) reduce the denudation of forests by lowlanders seeking shelter and livelihood in forested areas, all of which contribute to flooding.
In 2004, Conservation International-Philippines, the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) conducted a much needed study entitled “Mapping Population-Biodiversity Connections in the Philippines” (MPBCP) which examined the interrelatedness of rapid population growth and the continuing deterioration of our environment.
The study confirmed that a ballooning population is central to the problems of air and water pollution, loss of biodiversity, depletion of agricultural land and animal habitat, global warming and many other crucial environmental issues.
The British medical journal Lancet recently underscored the connection of population dynamics, reproductive health and rights and climate change. It asserted that reducing unmet need for family planning “could slow high rates of population growth, thereby reducing demographic pressure on the environment.”
Lancet also cited a British report which says family planning is five times cheaper than usual technologies used to fight climate change. According to the report, each $7 spent on basic family planning would slash global carbon dioxide emissions by more than 1 ton as opposed to at least $32 spent on green technologies.
Typhoon “Ondoy” is an eye-opener on the critical immediacy of enacting the reproductive health bill on family planning, responsible parenthood and population development, which is principally authored by Rep. Edcel C. Lagman.
Promoting both the natural and artificial methods of family planning is truly cost effective in protecting the environment from the onslaught of population explosion.
The UNICEF has prescribed that “family planning could bring more benefits to more people at less cost than any other single technology now available to the human race.”
“The enactment of the RH bill will tremendously enhance the country’s meeting its commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, particularly improvement of maternal health (MDG 5) and reduction of infant mortality (MDG 4).”
This was underscored by Rep. Edcel C. Lagman, principal author of HB No. 5043 on “Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development”.
Millennium Development Goal 5, which aims to reduce maternal mortality by three-quarters between 1990 and 2015, is the MDG least likely to be achieved.
In the Philippines, 11 women die daily from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes. The Maternal Mortality Ratio in the country was 209 per 100,000 live births in the early 1990s. In 1998, MMR fell to 172 but has stagnated thereafter to 162 up to 2006.
“At this pace of reduction, the target of reducing MMR to 52 by 2015 will be unattainable unless a law on reproductive health which will encourage voluntary family planning is put in place,” Lagman said.
Quoting documents from the Department of Reproductive Health and Research of the WHO, Lagman said that “of the more than 500,000 maternal deaths worldwide, one-third could be prevented by the correct and consistent use of contraceptives and about 1 million deaths of children under the age of five could be prevented with effective family planning methods.”
The UNFPA emphasized that “about 90 per cent of abortion-related deaths and disabilities worldwide could be avoided if women who wished to plan their families had access to effective contraception.”
Statistics from the UNFPA also reveal that of the more than half a million maternal deaths annually worldwide, 99% happen to women in developing countries like the Philippines.
In addition to the current 131 coauthors of the RH bill, seven more members of the House of Representatives have signified their intention to coauthor the bill, Lagman disclosed.
One facet of the character of President Cory Aquino which to my mind stands out is her respect for and capacity to tolerate differing views and opposing partisan positions.
In early 1992, I visited her in Malacañang to ask for the release of a badly needed additional P5-M for the completion of the Tabaco National High School Sports Complex. She ordered the funding release despite a memorandum form the then Executive Secretary Frank Drilon that my district had already received its share of budgetary releases.
But this is peripheral. The point is we talked for about 30 to 45 minutes and she never even hinted that I consider shifting my support to her anointed Presidential candidate Fidel Ramos. She knew I was a diehard Ramon Mitra supporter.
She respected my political persuasion and did not attempt to change it with the budgetary support she had just given to my district, or the fact that she once appointed me as her Undersecretary of the Department of Budget and Management shortly after the EDSA People Power Revolution.
Abolition of the Death Penalty is a Progressive and Humane Legislation
Rep. Edcel C. Lagman (LAKAS-KAMPI CMD, Albay), principal author of R.A. No. 9346 which abolished the death penalty on 24 January 2006, rejected calls for the re-imposition of the capital punishment.
“Knee-jerk reactions to the commission of a sensational crime do not justify the reversal of a progressive and humane legislation,” Lagman emphasized.
Lagman added that “it took the Philippines almost two decades, six Congresses and four Presidents to finally purge our penal statutes of the death penalty consistent with its abolition by the 1987 Constitution.”
Lamentably, there are again proponents for its re-imposition after three years and a half only.
Lagman also said that “the long crusade which was waged and anchored on empirical data, overriding reasons and worldwide advocacy should not be put to naught by misplaced calls for retribution and deterrence.”
It was President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s full support for the passage of the abolition measure that accelerated and assured the repeal of the death penalty.
In opposing the re-imposition of the supreme penalty, Lagman underscored the following:
1. Modern and progressive penology is oriented toward rehabilitation and restorative justice, not punitive execution.
2. Empirical studies, both local and international, have debunked the theory that the severity of the penalty deters the commission of heinous crimes.
3. What forecloses the commission of a crime is the realization by the prospective offender of the swiftness of apprehension, speediness of prosecution and the certainty of conviction once warranted.
4. The efficacious antidote to criminality is not the penalty but an efficient and honest police, prosecutorial and judicial system.