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Statement of women leaders of the Reproductive Health Advocacy Movement and the Purple Ribbon Campaign, 2 August, 2012

Women will rise against the Bishops’ tyranny!

Women members of the national people’s movement to pass the RH Bill – the Purple Ribbon Campaign – decry the lies and coercion done by some Catholic officials in their desperate bid to prevent the passage of the RH Bill. They lie when they misrepresent this bill as being only about contraception. They lie when they deliberately confuse contraception as abortion. They lie when they deny the thousands of death of women each year from unintended pregnancy and pregnancy complications. And they lie when they claim that only 40 legislators in the House of Representatives support this bill! These Church leaders proclaim they are prolife. In action they are prolies.

For every year that these Church officials stopped the RH Bill from passing, maternal health care, family planning and sexuality education were effectively deprived, especially from poor women. Yet these services are basic services, provided routinely as part of primary health care in most countries. These services are also indisputably proven by scientific evidence to be life-saving, life-enhancing, and facilitative of human development and human rights. 

By delaying the RH Bill for over a decade, these Church officials have facilitated the deaths of over 40,000 women. Majority of these women were poor, many were young and looking to their future, all were valued members of their families and communities.

After realizing that almost all sectors of Philippine society support the RH Bill, these Church officials now resort to threats, blackmail and other coercive tactics directed to President Aguino, legislators and key government officials. They force their interpretation of Catholic dogma on policies and policymakers. They coerce women, men and women into lives without choice and lives that are fraught with danger.  

As these Church officials continue to undermine the RH Bill and women’s well-being and rights, we declare that:

  •  we will defend this bill and its passage heart-to heart not just toe-to-toe in Congress. 
  •  we will propagate the essence of reproductive rights, gender justice, genuine respect for religious belief, scientific thinking and democracy in our families,    communities and public policies
  •  and yes, we will remember the likes of Archbishop Jose Palma, Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, Bishop Arturo Bastes, Bishop Jose Oliveros, Fr. Melvin Castro and the   others who have maligned the very legislation that could avert the further dying of women. May the Catholic Church be eventually weeded out of unenlightened, uncompassionate and undemocratic leaders like you.

Justice to women! Long live women’s rights!

Likhaan Center for Women’s Health Inc.
88 Times St., West Triangle Homes
Quezon City 1104 
Tel: (63 2) 926-6230 
Fax: (63 2) 411-3151 
E-mail: office@likhaan.org

By Tania Arpa

So former Bb. Pilipinas titlist Miriam Quiambao has been taking a lot of criticism from the pro-LGBT crowd for her anti-gay statements on a tv show and on her twitter. I regret that I too have tweeted some pretty angry messages about her regarding this issue. I should have taken my own advice about not tweeting when angry, because I now wish I could take back what I’ve written about wanting to take a shower after reading this Rappler article.

Miriam Quiambao (Photo taken from http://nudefilipina.blogspot.com .)

Yes, Ms. Q has shown herself to be a homophobe. But it’s not her fault. Not really. Because she loves God — the one who says that the gay lifestyle is evil — and therefore she has to believe that homosexual behavior is immoral. She obviously doesn’t want to believe this — she says she loves the LGBT folks — but since her god tells her that gay sex is wrong, she clearly doesn’t have a choice. If a Christian saves a bunch of orphans from starvation, do we give them our gratitude for it? Of course not — you give thanks to the Chrisian God. Being a Christian, they didn’t have a choice but to save the orphans. In the same way, we can’t blame Ms. Q for her actions or her opinions. She was doing her duty. Like she said: don’t shoot her, she’s just the messenger…

See the rest of the photos on the Filipino Freethinkers site


March is International Women’s Month! If you have a story to share about fantastic females, send them to us! Commemorate your mother’s strength, narrate your best friend’s journey, or divulge your very own struggles. Or if you have in-depth commentary on the fight for women’s rights, we would love to hear it, too.

Simply email your tales and essays to margie@filipinofreethinkers.org with the subject “Women’s Month Submission.”

(From the Filipino Freethinkers website.)

by Marguerite de Leon

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not out to demonize a woman who has obviously done loads for maternal and reproductive health. At 54 years old, Robin Lim has helped thousands of poverty-stricken Indonesian women to experience a healthy pregnancy and to safely give birth, and for that, she most certainly deserves to be hailed as this year’s CNN Hero.

As a rabid supporter of the passage of the local Reproductive Health (RH) Bill, it gladdens me to know that a person has actually built her life around providing the poorest of mothers with prenatal and postpartum care, birth services, and breast-feeding support — and has done so for free. Her Yayasan Bumi Sehat Foundation has done more for reproductive health in a single day than the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has done in, well, ever. I seriously wish that there were more people as passionate and take-charge about the cause as she is.

Here we go again, Inquirer

What doesn’t sit well with me, however, is how the media is playing up the fact that she is an advocate of “alternative medicine.” I’m giving the stink eye to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, in particular, because as far as I know, CNN  and other news outfits have yet to mention the words “hilot,” “alternative,” “homeopathy,” and “herbal medicine” in its features of Lim, whereas the Inquirer has been practically framing her as the poster woman for “No Therapeutic Claims,” and actually sees this love for quackery as a good thing. (Incidentally, FF has had quite a beef with the Inquirer’s integrity, as can be read hereherehere, and here.)

Take note that Lim was awarded mainly for her outstanding efforts to practice and promote safe birthing. CNN as the awarding body did not bestow her the honor because she felt that “there should be a reinvention of the health-care system by including holistic medicine such as acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal medicine and physiotherapy.” If that were actually the case, then Deepak “Quantum Mysticism” Chopra should have been crowned President of the fucking Universe ages ago

Shit sells

Sensationalism is the culprit here, I think. It is this horrid excuse for journalism that possibly encouraged the Inquirer’s writers to play up the “alternative medicine” angle. In line with local media’s never-ending, unnerving campaign for this thing called “Pinoy pride,” there’s a good chance that this facet of the half-Filipino Lim was highlighted because her traditional healing background was the most “Filipino” of her qualities. This nation is, after all, known for its folkloric herbal concoctions and its faith healers, never mind that these concoctions can’t hold a candle to actual lab-developed drugs, and that these healers are money-grubbing quacks of the highest order. (This broadsheet has, unsurprisingly, had a history of publishing scientifically unsound things like “miracles” as fact, so there’s that.)

Read the full article on the Filipino Freethinkers website.

by Pecier Decierdo

The RH Bill and Exponential Growth

In my article What the Debate on the RH Bill Should Not be About, I argued that overpopulation is a non-issue in debates over the passage of the RH Bill. There I reasoned that the battle over the RH Bill is a women’s rights battle and that overpopulation has little if anything to do with it. While I am still convinced that the RH Bill is a women’s rights issue, the following observations forced me to reconsider the relationship between the bill and the Philippine population problem:

  • The world population has exceeded 7 billion. What’s worse is that it shows no signs of stabilizing on its own anytime in the foreseeable future (contrary to the claims of the laissez-faire advocates).
  • The successful population management measures in many countries around the world, particularly in neighboring Thailand and Vietnam, have yielded very positive effects. In fact, the said countries have already overtaken the Philippines in terms of social and economic progress.
  • Our legislators, particularly Senator Sotto, continue to use overpopulation denial myths as arguments against the passage of the RH Bill.
  • Conservative estimates have pegged the Philippine population at 101 million as of July 2011.[1]
  • The Philippine population grew by 1.904% in the year 2011.[1]

The above observations should be enough to convince any rational person that the RH Bill is not only important but is urgently needed. Sadly, many of our politicians aren’t really of the rational sort.

Seven billion. That’s a pretty big number, dontcha think?

Sotto Voce?

On a Senate interpellation on the RH Bill held last December 5, Senator Tito Sotto parroted the same old ridiculous arguments that supposedly prove that the world is not overpopulated. Worse still, Sotto went as far as to claim that the world would never experience overpopulation. In his own (?) words, “These people think that they are smarter than God. Sa tingin ba nila gagawa ba ang Diyos ng mundo na mapupuno? [Do they think God will create a world that will be overpopulated?]”

Read the full article on the Filipino Freethinkers website.

Community Women Decry RH Delay in Congress

November 29, 2011 at the House of Representatives.

RH Advocates’ frustration is felt at Congress. Audio begins at 03:55.

by Kenneth Keng

Right now I so very badly want to be exploring the Winterfell-esque beauty contained in Bethesda’s latest action-RPG epic Skyrim, but as it stands now I seem to have traded in fighting this :

to save this:

for fighting this:

to save this:

Read the full article at the Filipino Freethinkers website.

by Red Tani

A group of community women interrupted a session in the House of Representatives, calling for delays on the passage of the RH Bill to end. This was not a silent call. The women shouted. They were immediately escorted out of the session hall because shouting in Congress is against the rules.

But what the women shouted about is not against the rules. It is not against the rules for Rep. Garcia and Rep. Kisumbing to be absent for their scheduled interpellations. It is not against the rules for Rep. Garcia to bring up conspiracy theories, nor is it against the rules for Rep. Daza and Rep. Bagatsing to waste an entire session talking about how boxing should be judged. And it is not against the rules for Rep. Apostol to step out in the middle of the session and make everyone wait while he had an hour-long merienda.

Read the full article on the Filipino Freethinkers website.

We are now on the Third Day of the Occupy for RH campaign, and things are going well at the camp. We got rained on a bit yesterday morning, but the camp is as lively as ever. The FF tent will be undergoing some upgrades today, thanks to the efforts and donations of our members, and we look forward to seeing everyone there.

In the meantime, here’s a short summary of the things that happened on Monday. Keep an eye out for our old friend Tolits, and our expertly coordinated Command Center Lift-off to occupy their intended occupation of the Occupy campaign.

by Red Tani

Yesterday, I wrote about how an anti-RH group tried to do a demonstration in SB park without a permit. An anti-RH reader (we probably have a few) responded to the post by doing what the anti-RH seem to do best — lie about it:

[aj] You might have read the news from a certain group of people who thinks [sic] they are smart and support RH that the Anti-RH group that went on vigil last night did not have a permit to rally. I won’t post their site, but let me tell you that this is an outright lie. These guys are liars of the highest order and would heckle their way into any decent discussion. The truth is that the pro-life side had a permit issued by the baranggay. The other side also had a permit – coming from Vice mayor Herbert Bautista who is pro RH. So para walang gulo, the vigil was just held somewhere else near the area, pero hindi po totoo na wala tayong permit at nagsinungaling tayo tungkol sa permit natin.

So I issued a simple challenge.

The Challenge! —> Read the full article on the Filipino Freethinkers website.