November 4, 2008.
CFC-FFL's Statement on the SWS Survey Showing Public Acceptance of HB 5043
The Social Weather Station (SWS) recently publicized the results of its survey on the pending Reproductive Health Rights Bill (HB 5043). The results conveyed the message that an overwhelming majority of the population favors the passage of HB 5043. As will be shown below, however, the results are unreliable, misleading and inaccurate. First, the questions were framed in a way that respondents were practically led to the desired answers. Second, the questions withheld certain critical information (e.g., that some contraceptives are abortifacient and harmful to women; that people could go to jail for expressing an opinion against the Bill or for failing in good faith to comply with its mandatory provisions; that children as young as 10 years old would be taught the way to a safe and satisfying sex life, etc.) that could have swayed respondents to answer differently. Third, only a handful of respondents 1,500 adults, divided into random samples of 300 each for Metro Manila, Visayas and Mindanao, and 600 for Luzon, participated in the survey. Last, surveys have time and again been discredited in the United States where the concept originated, because of their unreliability.
76% Want Family Planning Education in Public Schools
71% Favor Passage of the Reproductive Health Bill
A discerning reader knows that survey results are not gospel truths, aware that such results are vulnerable to manipulation. The neutrality of the questions asked and the disclosure of pivotal information are hallmarks of a survey conducted in the pursuit of truth and justice. These indicators of fairness and objectivity are wanting in the SWS survey, prompting readers to criticize the results and accuse SWS of blatant partiality. These critics believed that the survey questions, which can be seen through this link http://www.sws.org.ph/pr081016.htm, were generally ambiguous and skewed to attract support for the Bill. The manner by which the questions were crafted is opposed to what SWS, as an organization, professes in its "Statement of Strategy": Quot homines tot sententiae: Respect For Diversity. http://www.sws.org.ph/
It is disheartening to see how SWS, in the conduct of this particular survey, veered away from its professed "Objectives of Strategy", as an organization:
Education: So eyes may see social conditions
Conscientization: So hearts may feel social problems
Analysis: So minds may understand their solutions
The survey questions ignored the diversity of opinions expressed on the Bill, and failed to educate or form the conscience of the public towards an understanding of the intricacies involved in the various issues. Instead, they succeeded only in misleading the public and advancing the interest of the group that sponsored the survey. Moreover, the questions were bereft of factual inferences, preventing the people's hearts to feel the social problems. How could minds understand their solutions when the survey was prejudiced? It did not have room for opposite views, depriving the public of the opportunity to discern the best option possible.
On the Pursuit of Truth and Justice
Ang "Reproductive Health and Population Development Act of 2007" ay isang panukalang batas sa mabababang kapulungan ng kongreso na magbibigay ng katungkulan sa gobyerno na magtaguyod ng programa ukol sa responsableng pagpapamilya o responsible parenthood sa pamamagitan ng sapat na impormasyon sa publiko at pagkakaroon ng mga ligtas, legal, mura at de-kalidad na serbisyong pang-reproductive health sa mga taong may gusto nito. Kayo ba ay pabor o hindi pabor sa panukalang batas na ito?
This question wrongly assumes that the respondent knows the details of the Bill, particularly its controversial provisions. By being silent on these objectionable features, the question creates the impression that the Bill is only about having a policy on responsible parenthood and reproductive health services. Unless he is told about the dangers of the Bill, a respondent will likely give a positive answer to the question. Here lies the manipulation.
How can responsible parenthood be enabled when part of the Bill states that it will not be necessary for spousal consent when seeking vasectomy or ligation? Or when parental consent is not necessary in administering reproductive health interventions for minors? Unfortunately, these legitimate issues were excluded from the questions.
How can enough information be applied when no one among the proponents of the Bill has ever stated the harmful side-effects of the contraceptives? There seems to be no intention for full disclosure to the public of these harmful side-effects. Would they be willing to include in the labels of the contraceptive drugs or devices, a warning violator, much like in the labels of cigarettes: "The use of contraceptives is dangerous to your health."? The survey took advantage of the ignorance of the public on the specific provisions of the Bill to achieve its desired results.
Other SWS Questions: In the survey reportedly commissioned by the Forum for Family Planning and Development, SWS asked the following questions:
1) "The usage of legal contraceptives like condoms, IUDs and pills can also be considered as abortion. Agree or disagree?"
2) "There should be a law that requires gov't to distribute legal contraceptives like condoms, IUDs, and pills to people who want to avail of them. Agree or Disagree?"
The first question is flawed for two reasons: First, by cleverly putting condoms in the same category as IUDs and pills, the question forces the respondent to agree to the question because of his common understanding that condoms cannot be considered as an abortion. Second, by not explaining the relationship between conception and IUDs/pills, the question subliminally conveys the message that IUDs and pills are safe and are not abortifacient. Third, the manipulative nature of the question is apparent from the use of the term "legal contraceptives", which was an ingenious way to create the false promise that "abortion" is not contemplated in the Bill. Or is it the question trying to say that if contraceptives are legalized, then no one can claim that contraceptives can cause abortion because abortion is illegal? Or can abortion be legitimized when the contraceptives are legalized? What is this question trying to drive at?
The second question is as defective as the first, since it fails to warn the respondents that they as taxpayers will pay for the costs of buying the contraceptives that will be given free to those who will ask for these contraceptives.
3) "If family planning would be included in their curriculum the youth would be sexually promiscuous. Agree or disagree?"
We see the question as flawed. Sheer logic will show that there is no connection between family planning and sexual promiscuity.
So the subliminal message to the respondent is: "How could a family planning curriculum for the youth lead to their sexual promiscuity?" What we oppose is a Mandatory State Sex Education for seven (7) years (beginning from Grade 5) that has no moral and ethical moorings or foundation.. We are purposefully against the State teaching our children about this intimate topic of human sexuality, especially because it will be linked to the use of contraceptive drugs and devices, which is morally wrong and violates the Constitutional mandate that the rearing of children is the primary obligation of parents. Sexual promiscuity may be a result of a morally devoid sex education program, when the children will not be guided with virtues and catechetical formation on this sensitive aspect of their being.
The results of the SWS Survey showing a favorable vote for the passage of HB 5043 is not credible and should not be a basis to shape the opinions of the lawmakers nor the public. The survey's method is flawed, unreliable and distorted, and cannot be an acceptable gauge for measuring public sentiment, let alone serve the interest of truth and justice.
On the practice of conducting surveys, matters of morals are absolute truths and therefore not subject to popularity acceptance or rejection. Many sections in this Bill violate moral principles and therefore are non-negotiable.
Therefore, CFC-FFL continues to reject HB 5043 and specially the SWS Survey pronouncing a clamor for the passage of the bill.
Couples for Christ Foundation, Inc.
Renewing the Family and Defending Life