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SDRC Conducts Discussion on RH Bill during Health Social Science Conference

The Social Development Research Center organized a panel discussion on the Reproductive Health Bill (HB 4110) held during the Scientific Conference on Health Social Science on October 14, 2011 at the CSB Hotel. Chaired by Center Director Dennis D. Trinidad, the SDRC formed the panel in order to provide a venue where the issue on the Reproductive Health Bill can be discussed by academicians and practitioners alike from a multidisciplinary perspective. With this objective, Dr. Trinidad assembled a panel of resource speakers who came from different academic disciplines, namely from religious education, philosophy, gender and population studies to discuss and explore the opportunities and risks of adopting a national policy on reproductive health.

Opening the discussion was Prof. Josefina N. Natividad, Director of the University of the Philippines Population Institute, whose presentation “A Demographic Backgrounder on the RH Bill Debates” began by informing participants that the Philippines had the most dense population in the ASEAN region, had the highest growth rate, and since the 1950s has also had the highest fertility rate. In his presentation “Responsible Parenthood Bill in the Philippines:  Sources of Conflict Between the Church and Various Sectors,” Dr. Rito Baring of the Theology and Religious Education Department meanwhile identified the Bill’s anti-life stance and problematic attitudes towards issues affecting religious expression as the reason’s behind the Church’s opposition to the bill.  Dr. Jeane Peracullo of the Philosophy Department, providing “A Filipino Feminist Perspective on Reproductive Health Bill Debates,” in contrast pointed out that women are not part of the anti-RH Bill arguments, and asked how the Bill, which will change women’s lives for the better, can be considered to be “anti-life”. Lastly, Mr. Anastacio Marasigan of the International Studies Department, speaking on “Localizing the Response of HIV and AIDS and its Implications for the RH Debate,” called attention to the Philippines’ being one of the seven countries in the world with an increasing incidence of HIV, and the need to know the epidemic and to formulate a localized and culturally appropriate (including gender and age) response in order to address the problem.

The forum concluding the session gave rise to questions on whether a resolution to differences between Church and State on the issue was possible, and what the implications of the Bill were within a global context. Among the other ideas discussed were that the Philippines cannot meet the agenda for the Millennium Development Goals, which it has committed to attaining, until the Bill is passed; that “overpopulation” is dependent on what resources are available to and can be absorbed by the public; and that sexual education can also be viewed as a tool for empowerment as it reduces risk behaviors.  

Research fellows, associates and researchers also taking part in the Conference were Stella P. Go, Conference Convenor; Pilar Ramos Jimenez (representing the Philippine Health Social Science Association), who was a discussant in the plenary session on “The Philippine Health Social Science Association: Beginnings, Accomplishments, Challenges, and Future Directions”; Executive Director for Human Resources Jesusa M. Marco, who spoke on “Health Social Science in De La Salle University” for the panel discussion on “The Teaching of Health Social Science” (which was chaired by Romeo B. Lee); Graeme Armecin, who delivered a paper entitled “Is the School-Based Population in Southeast Asia Healthy? Findings from the 2007 Global School-Based Health Survey” for the panel discussion on “Health of Adolescents and Elderly”; Exaltacion E. Lamberte, who was a discussant during the plenary session on “Millennium Development Goals: Meeting the Health Agenda”; Cristina Rodriguez, who chaired the panel discussion on methods and techniques; and Ma. Elena Chiong-Javier, who led the plenary discussion on synthesis and action agenda.

The Scientific Conference on Health Social Science was sponsored by the Behavioral Sciences Department of the College of Liberal Arts, and had as its theme “Health Social Science: Practices, Policies and Prospects.”  The Conference primarily aimed to identify and describe interventions in health programs, projects and policies carried out in the Philippines and in the South East Asian region.





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