MANILA, Sept. 23, 2011—Is President Benigno Aquino III going to seek the Obama administration’s backing in its bid to pass the “reproductive health” (RH) bill?
A day after a top senator bared the UN population control agency’s hand in the RH bill lobby, Aquino again made a push for the controversial bill in a speech before the Asia Society in New York, where he is on official visit.
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III warned against meddling by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), and pointed out that US funding for UNFPA is already a subject of intense political debate over the issue of forced abortions and coercive population control.
In New York, Aquino defended his decision to go against the Catholic Church’s staunch opposition to the RH bill, ironically after getting an honorary degree from a Catholic university, the Jesuit-run Fordham University in New York.
Answering questions after his speech, Aquino said he did not mind getting the ire of the Catholic leadership, adding that the actions of the state should be separated from those of the Church.
Aquino said he only wanted to give the poor “choices” on family planning. Sotto, however, had long pointed out that existing laws already allow the government to do such.
The President was quoted by GMA News Online as saying: “Should I attempt to mimic an ostrich that buries the head in the sand when I’ll be asked by God at some point in time, what did you do to the least of my brethren?”
Sotto on Tuesday said: “Now we have it through good sources that there is now a brewing controversy because the Obama administration plans to refund the UNFPA and is now a subject of a lot of debates in the US.”
The Obama administration has restored funding to UNFPA since 2009. UNFPA has released funding to pro-RH groups RHAN and Likhaan to expedite the passage of the RH bill, documents showed.
Obama is also funding another RH supporter, the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), the world’s biggest provider of abortion services.
For 2012, Obama is requesting a budget of $47 million for UNFPA.
UN agency meddling in RH bill passage
Sotto said the UNFPA has been meddling in the RH issue through lobby groups.
“They have a proposal to the UNFPA for the reproductive health advocacy network (RHAN) asking for a monetary support in order to expedite the passage of the RH bill. In their budget statements and budget items, Number 1 is ‘nurturing of legislators.’ I’m not sure what this means. But I’m concerned about the participation of the UNFPA through RHAN and Likhaan. It appears that the UNFPA has participation through RHAN and Likhaan,” Sen. Sotto said in his interpellation during Tuesday’s plenary session.
“An investigation in 2001 headed by then Secretary of State Colin Powell further established that UNFPA was indeed complicit in the coercive implementation of China’s one child policy. The US has withheld funding for the UNFPA since 2002,” Sotto said.
China’s one-child policy has been highly criticized since it is carried out through a program of coercive abortion and involuntary sterilization, Sotto said.
“Just how sure are we that we are not falling into the dictates of these influential organizations? … when you have the UN and UNFPA being partners with groups like Likhaan, and the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP) partners with the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) [in] pushing for the RH bill and you see the effect … in other countries, then you probably would realize why we feel very strongly against this issue,” he explained.
‘Sleeping with the enemy’
In continuing his interpellation with the sponsors of the bill, the senator pointed out that those behind the Likhaan organization had admitted that they do promote abortion by providing women information about safe abortion and likewise warn about unsafe pregnancies.
“Not only that, they also admitted that most NGOs advocating women’s causes do have underground contacts to those what they call as ‘safe service providers’ or those who could perform ‘safe’ abortion procedures. So how could you assess such group with that kind of a perspective?
“We’re having difficulty accepting this bill because it would mean as if we’re ‘sleeping with the abortionists’ if not sleeping with the enemy, so to speak,” he said.
Previously, the Majority Leader bared that FPOP was in receipt of foreign funding to push for a national policy on artificial birth control methods, including abortion, as a means of controlling the population.
FPOP has admitted being a “proud” member of the IPPF which supports and pushes abortion. Last year, it got P26 million from IPPF to push its agenda. (CBCP for Life)