Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Responsible Parenthood cannot be legislated

Question: If you are a parent, has one or more kids, do you need the government to tell you that you should be a responsible parent?

Think quick. Yes or No?


If you answer Yes, then I believe there is something wrong with your personal values. If you answer No, then I congratulate you. You know your role as an individual and as a parent.

But now, we in the Philippines are faced with a congressional proposal with an ugly title called "Responsible Parenthood" bill. Parental responsibility is a non-issue. It's a given. If you are a parent, you HAVE responsibilities to your kids, to your family, no alibis.

So how come that a supposedly non-issue has become a big national issue?

I think the quick and simple answer is: Government. The government wants to impose another round of coercion and mandatory actions. And there are penalties and fines for non-obedience to such new round of coercion.

This highly controversial, highly divisive, highly emotional congressional bill, will require long discussions. Section by section if necessary.

For now, I will limit this article to only one thing: HUGE budgetary requirements to implement this proposal if it becomes a law. I will reserve additional discussions in the continuation of this new discussion series.

The authors, sponsors and advocates of this bill seem to think that this problem does not exist -- high public debt as a result of endless annual budget deficit, a result of endless borrowings to plug those deficit. High debt will require high repayment, both in principal and interest payment.

And thus, they thought of these programs with still undetermined, high, and new expenditures on top of existing expenditures:

Sec. 5. Midwives for Skilled Attendants.

The Local Government Units (LGUs) with the assistance of the Department of Health (DOH), shall employ an adequate number of midwives to achieve a minimum ratio of one (1) fulltimeskilled birth attendant for every one hundred fifty (150) deliveries per year...

Sec. 6. Emergency Obstetric Care.

Each province and city, with the assistance of the DOH, shall establish or upgrade hospitals with adequate and qualified personnel, equipment and supplies to be able to provideemergency obstetric care. For every 500,000 population, there shall be at least one (1)hospital with comprehensive emergency obstetric care and four (4) hospitals or other health facilities with basic emergency obstetric care...

Sec. 7. Access to Family Planning.

All accredited health facilities shall provide a full range of modern family planning methods,except in specialty hospitals which may render such services on optional basis. For poorpatients, such services shall be fully covered by PhilHealth Insurance and/or governmentfinancial assistance on a no balance billing...

Sec. 9. Maternal Death Review

All Local Government Units (LGUs), national and local government hospitals, and other publichealth units shall conduct annual maternal death review in accordance with the guidelines setby the DOH.

Sec. 10. Family Planning Supplies as Essential Medicines

Products and supplies for modern family planning methods shall be part of the National DrugFormulary and the same shall be included in the regular purchase of essential medicines andsupplies of all national and local hospitals and other government health units.

Sec. 11. Procurement and Distribution of Family Planning Supplies

The DOH shall spearhead the efficient procurement, distribution to Local Government Units (LGUs) and usage-monitoring of family planning supplies for the whole country.

Sec. 13. Roles of Local Government in Family Planning Programs

The LGUs shall ensure that poor families receive preferential access to services, commodities and programs for family planning. The role of Population Officers at municipal, city and barangay levels in the family planning effort shall be strengthened. The Barangay Health Workers and Volunteers shall be capacitated to give priority to family planning work.

Sec. 14. Benefits for Serious and Life-Threatening Reproductive Health Conditions

All serious and life threatening reproductive health conditions such as HIV and AIDS, breast and reproductive tract cancers, obstetric complications, menopausal and post-menopausal related conditions shall be given the maximum benefits as provided by PhilHealth programs.

SEC. 15. Mobile Health Care Service

Each Congressional District shall be provided with at least one Mobile Health Care Service(MHCS) in the form of a van or other means of transportation appropriate to coastal ormountainous areas.

SEC. 16. Mandatory Age-Appropriate Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education

Age-appropriate Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education shall be taught by adequately trained teachers in formal and non-formal educational system starting from Grade Five up to Fourth Year High School using life-skills and other approaches.... The Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and the Department of Health (DOH) shall formulate the Reproductive Health and Sexuality Education curriculum. Such curriculum shall be common to both public and private schools, out of school youth...

SEC. 19. Capability Building of Barangay Health Workers

Barangay Health Workers and other community-based health workers shall undergo training on the promotion of reproductive health and shall receive at least 10% increase in honoraria, upon successful completion of training. The amount necessary for the increase in honoraria shall be charged against the Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) componentof the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program of the DSWD. In the event the CCT is phased out, the funding sources shall be charged against the Gender and Development(GAD) budget or the development fund component of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA).

SEC. 24. Right to Reproductive Health Care Information

...The DOH and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) shall initiate and sustain a heightened nationwide multi-media campaign to raise the level of public awareness of the protection and promotion of reproductive health and rights...

Twelve sections leading to still undetermined amount, several billions of pesos per year of new spending to control high population growth. Determining the size of family is now government responsibility, not parental responsibility. Then taking care of the kids -- their education, healthcare, nutrition, other needs -- is also implied to be largely government responsibility, not parental responsibility.

Since when have the values of parents been corrupted this way?

Additional discussions to follow in the coming days and weeks.

Related articles here are Increasing population, no problem

Population policy: Big Govt or Big Church?


Patrick Ella said...

Hello Nonoy,
One thing the sponsors and rabid supporters of this bill has not discussed is the actual cost of this bill, its impact on the fiscal balance (currently in historic deficit levels) and whether any future taxes are required. Hope you can have some numbers on this is a future post. Whenever I ask these to some of the Pro-RH Bill activists on twitter, they turn silent and evasive.

Bienvenido Oplas Jr said...

Thanks Patrick. It is difficult to produce the estimates, them in government would know, they're hiding it. For instance, in Sec. 5, hiring of thousands of new midwives. In Sec. 6, creation of new hospitals in EACH province and city which have no hospitals yet, and for those which have ones already, to modernize them. These 2 sections alone would cost several hundred millions, if not billions, per year already.

Carolyn McCudden said...

Policy must be driven by the long term cost savings of the initial input.We then have countries worth living in for ourselves and future generations. Your short term view on the initial expense is short sighted. After viewing footage of leacherous adults watching a boy gyrating for their pleasure I would have to say good parenting needs to be legislated at the taxpayers expense by programs such as Positive Parenting which promote optimal parenting skills so obviously lacking. Damaged children are not productive citizens and become expensive casualties.

Bienvenido Oplas Jr said...

All existing government programs were created in the past with long-term view. Education for the poor, healthcare for the poor, housing for the poor, credit for the poor, agrarian reform for the poor, justice for the poor, public works for the poor, armed forces for the economy, etc. Poverty was never conquered, those programs only managed to make the public debt keep rising and rising, endlessly. And now another big government project, population control for the poor...

Johann Barcena said...

Hello Nonoy,

First, I do not agree with the statement that determining family size has become government responsibility, and not parental responsibility. The RH Bill intends to help parents who already want to limit the number of their children; it does not tell them how many children to have.

Secondly, education, healthcare and other needs have always been perceived to be a responsibility of government. Government is supposed to provide access to education and healthcare, especially for those who cannot afford them. That is why a lot of organizations demand greater government budget for these services. But of course, government is there only to provide access, it is up to the parents to send their children to school and to avail of these services.

Finally, I agree with Ms. McCudden that the long-term benefits of the bill will outweigh its initial cost, however costly it may be. Indeed we have a high public debt, but we will continue to borrow in increased amounts as our population grows exponentially. Demographically speaking, it is the population of our countrymen from classes C, D and E that continue to rise and they are the ones who need the services that government provides (through increased borrowing).

Yes, I agree that responsible parenthood cannot be legislated. But irresponsible parenthood can be prevented through proper legislation.

Bienvenido Oplas Jr said...

Thanks Johann. The government message of limiting family size is implicit, not explicit. The most recent data, 2.0 percent RP population growth rate is deemed "too high" by international standards, thus the government, with urging from the UN, WB, WHO, other foreign aid bodies, is "urging" couples to limit the number of their kids.

Education, healthcare, housing, nutrition, etc. as "govt responsibility" is not a universal political philosophy. Socialists will say "all schools, all hospitals, all restaurants, all public markets, shd be owned by government so that govt can provide those services for free..." Classic liberal philosophy will say, "Education, healthcare,... is parental responsibility plus civil society support. The main role of govt is not to provide endless welfare and subsidies but to promulgate the rule of law, protect people's right to liberty, right to property ownership..."

As I mentioned above, ALL public spending in the past and the present have justifications and alibis to continue borrowing. Living within one's means, like what ordinary household do, does not apply in govt. That is why the role of govt is to keep bloating the public debt, keep taxing and taxing the people to pay those debt, to continue whatever welfarist and other bleeding heart goals.

Anonymous said...

This is very good material - succinctly described. Kudos!


Ishmael F. Ahab said...

The RH Bill will not work in the sense that programs similar to the programs being pushed by the RH Bill failed in the past.

Giving free contraceptives, free condoms, free IUDs and all those "free" items are not free at all. This is the fact that the supporters of the RH Bill must realize. However, they chose to ignore this fact and here we are, on the brink on passing another congressional bill that will add burden to Filipino taxpayers.

One, these free items are not free because government buy these "free" items using taxpayers' money. It is the pharmaceutical and condom manufacturers which will benefit from this RH ill.

Two, taxpayers' money can and should be spent on other projects that will result to long term development of the country. Instead of wasting our money on the RH Bill, I say that we use that money in developing the agri sector. This will solve our "food crisis" and the unemployment in the rural areas.