Starting September 8, 2012, anonymous comments -- whether for or against the RH bill -- will no longer be permitted on this blog.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The foreign hands behind the RH bill

Powerful pro-RH lobby
By Malou Guanzon-Apalisok
Cebu Daily News

Is there an unseen foreign hand lobbying for the passage of the Reproductive Health (RH) bill in Congress? This was the point raised by Senate Majority Leader Vicento “Tito” Sotto III during last Tuesday’s plenary debates on the controversial bill.

Senator Sotto was elected to a new term in the Senate in 2010. He was elected senator for two terms from 1992 to 2004, but he has never found a key issue that would define his stint in the Senate. He tried to champion the anti-drugs issue in 1992 but it was a painful time for him. He did not only fail, the issue also tainted him.

If he is serious in his efforts to unmask local lobbyists and invisible partners actively pushing for the controversial legislation, he could be treading on dangerous territory but this will become the acid test of his will to serve and who knows, might yet rewrite his legislative record in a way that will make his grandfather, the late Cebuano senator Vicente Y. Sotto, proud.

Talks that lawmakers who are supporting the RH bill receive money from powerful lobbyists had been going around, but no government agency or nongovernment organization is pressing to look into the matter. In fact, this is the first time in legislative discussions about the RH bill, whether in its previous or current version, that a lawmaker is raising the issue of lobbying and lobbyists.

The definitions on lobby by online resources are aplenty, but Wikipedia has an interesting output because it presents a timeline that shows how the word evolved.

“Lobbying,” by the account of the British Broadcasting Corp., comes from the gathering of Members of Parliament and peers in the hallways (or lobbies) of Houses of Parliament before and after parliamentary debates. In this segment, the word “lobby” refers to campaigns or moves aimed to influence the outcome of legislation.

Another story states that the term originated at “the Willard Hotel in Washington DC, where it was used by Ulysses S. Grant to describe the political wheelers and dealers who frequented the hotel’s lobby to access Grant—who was often there to enjoy a cigar and brandy.”

Grant was President of the US from 1869 to 1877. His major advocacy is support for civil rights for the freed slaves of his era. However, history has judged his presidency poorly because of its “tolerance for graft and corruption.”

By moving to make known the forces rallying behind members of Congress who are pushing for the passage of the RH Bill, Senator Sotto is telling Senate sponsors like Miriam Defensor Santiago and Pia Cayetano to look closely into the activities of the RH lobbyists, in particular, the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP).

The senator’s objective has yet to unravel but perhaps he intends to ask the FPOP, which is said to be funded by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), about family planning interventions that are being underwritten by the IPPF.

The IPPF is the largest family planning organization in the world. It is the pet peeve of the Population Research Institute in Virginia, USA and its president Steven Mosher.

Mosher has been attacking IPPF for allegedly circumventing anti-abortion laws in the Philippines, Bangladesh, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam and India.

The staunch pro-lifer said the IPPF has brought 200 menstrual regulation kits supposedly for demonstration purposes and distributed the paraphernalia to local doctors in the Philippines. Mosher alleged that the importation of the menstrual kits subverted our laws because the procedure, “menstrual regulation” or “menstrual evacuation” is actually another name for abortion.

With Sotto’s interest in the pro-RH lobby, indeed now is the time to inquire about NGOs’ intervention in family planning programs and whether these are in conformity with our laws and cultural tradition.

Advocates of the RH bill like FPOP, which works in alliance with IPPF, are not ordinary lobby forces.

The IPPF is “financially supported by governments, trusts and foundations including the European Commission and the United Nations Population Fund for special projects.

“Half of the balance of their funding comes from government official development assistance programmes. To achieve their goals as an organization, the IPPF often collaborates with the World Health Organization, the United Nations Development Program, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations Population Fund, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development,” according to Mr. Wiki.

To the long list of strong financial supporters, IPPF has added one more, billionaire mogul Warren Buffet, whose personal wealth is estimated at $50 billion.

A report by The New York Times last year said the Warren Buffet Foundation gives tens of millions of dollars to IPPF. The investing mogul is said to be “secretly backing a campaign to combat the decrease in doctors who are training as abortionists and to bring abortion into the mainstream of medicine.”

“The New Abortion Providers” by journalist Emily Bazelon said the campaign involves abortion “rights” activists working to “recast doctors, changing them from a weak link of abortion to a strong one.” The scenario they wish to make is to “integrate abortion so that it’s a seamless part of health care for women, embraced rather than shunned.”

No comments:

Post a Comment