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Revisiting the RH Bill: A Trojan Horse for Increased Wasteful Public Spending?

February 16, 2011

I have this feeling that the RH bill advocates are headed in the wrong path – increased government spending on contraceptives is not the way to go. Let me make it clear

  • I don’t agree with the Catholic position on contraceptives.
  • I agree that contraceptives are needed and it is important to make it more accessible.
  • I disagree that government procurement is the best way to provide the largest number of people contraceptives – which is a, dole-out.

Contemporary research

(Wikipedia)

It is generally accepted that overpopulation is aggravated by poverty and gender inequality with consequent unavailability, and lack of knowledge of contraception. Third world evidence usually bears this theory out. However, first and second world fertility rates, in the Depression era United States, modern Russia, Japan, Italy, Sweden, Estonia and France suggest that these populations are responding inversely to poverty and economic pressures, especially on women.[27] Thus, France is increasing social and women’s services, like childcare and parental leave, expecting the policy to stop the aging of its population. Italy is regarded as alleviating overpopulation more rapidly than Sweden as a result of less gender equality and fewer children’s services.[citation needed]

Newer research has been done by the U.S. National Security Council, in a study entitled National Security Study Memorandum 200, under the direction of Henry Kissinger in 1974. This report stressed that only 13 countries are projected to account for 47 percent of the world population increase by the year 2050. This, it is argued, (due to its impact on development, food requirements, resources and the environment) adversely affected the welfare and progress of countries concerned. It further argued that this would undermine the stability of countries friendly to the US and therefore harm the “national security” of the US as well.[28]

David Pimentel, professor of ecology and agriculture at Cornell University, and Mario Giampietro, senior researcher at the National Research Institute on Food and Nutrition (INRAN), place in their study Food, Land, Population and the U.S. Economy the maximum U.S. population for a sustainable economy at 200 million. To achieve a sustainable economy and avert disaster, the United States must reduce its population by at least one-third, and world population will have to be reduced by two-thirds, says the study.[29]

The authors of this study believe that agricultural crises will develop, but they will only begin to impact us after 2020, and will not become critical until 2050. Geologist Dale Allen Pfeiffer claims that coming decades could see spiraling food prices without relief and massive starvation on a global level never experienced before.[30][31]

Another study has been done by the National Audubon Society which recently released a 16-page document called “Population and Habitat: Making the Connection.” In this study, population control is widely supported.[32]

I have no doubt that contraceptives are important. But still the same issue on nationalization versus Privatization.

  • Distribution of contraceptives by government (RHB) = wasteful.
  • Distribution of contraceptives by private sector w/ open competition (amended RHB) = less wasteful.

Dude… They are handing out the contraceptives for free. They procure it using taxes. Our money. No such thing as free lunch.

Accessibility to contraceptives need not be government funded. Contraceptive companies should instead market their products more efficiently (i.E. Vending machines in rest rooms of hotels/motels/bars/restaurants/gas stations). Government can provide a level playing field for vendors of contraceptives – sans religious interference. Think about it – all the commercial establishments in the Philippines making contraceptives accessible and visible to the public.

I am okay with the push on education and awareness – but socialized contraceptives procurement – good luck with that.

It is an apprehension that I share with Benk’s who also stated that

“the more I think about it, the more I think this whole fixation on contraceptives is completely wrong — it already is on the church’s part, but on the part of those who think it’s so damned important to have free or low-cost contraception as well. Contraceptives, at least something basic like condoms, are already widely available. If you can’t afford them, you can’t afford to be screwing like a mink. I worry that the RH bill, for all the good it does actually contain, might not unintentionally contribute further to some harmful attitudes and behaviors.”

Review of Past Procurement Programs Related to Contraceptives

RH bill is a resurrected POPCOM bill – you know what happened to those supplies – the POPCOM employees sold it to mercury drug store – I should know – I have a buddy who was doing exactly just that.

My dad was briefly chief of clinics of Davao Medical Center. Upon assuming the position he found out that the “free” supplies being sold by the employees union to poor and rich patients alike. In fact the free supplies got sold to the rich patients first. My Dad put a stop to the practice – and in return, the employees looked for a loophole. Since my dad is also medical consultant for the Office on Muslim Affairs – the employees said my dad was doubly compensated by government – and therefore had to return the salary paid to him as chief of clinics. It was preposterous – one can be consultant and doing another job at the same time – that’s common place in the private sector. To make a long story short – my dad resigned from the position – heck we have our own hospital and we don’t need to be employed in a public hospital and deal with all the drama. It was the best decision we made – tough luck for the public – they lost out.

The problem is the bill contains provisions which enables the conditions under which employees are more prone to committing corruption – the education aspect is okay – but the public procurement is in my opinion, FLAWED.

When it comes to procurement – keep the governments hands off of it. Recall in the mid seventies – with the the POPCOM – they actually had a similar program. What happened was POPCOM employees wound up selling the “free goods” to Mercury Drug – I don’t see how this RHB can stop this from happening🙂

That contraceptive funding has been around – and it hasn’t worked. Renaming a funding that hasn’t worked into something more formal – is giving a different collar to the same dog. The private sector was able to bring down the cost of previously high priced items by changing packaging – into sachets. Having government intervene is not a guarantee – not among the Filipinos.

Legal basis

The RHB preamble goes

The State recognizes and guarantees the exercise of the universal basic human right to reproductive health by all persons, particularly of parents, couples and women, consistent with their religious convictions, cultural beliefs and the demands of responsible parenthood. Toward this end, there shall be no discrimination against any person on grounds such as sex, age, religion, sexual orientation, disabilities, political affiliation and ethnicity.

Moreover, the State recognizes and guarantees the promotion of gender equality, equity and women’s empowerment as a health and human rights concern. The advancement and protection of women’s human rights shall be central to the efforts of the State to address reproductive health care. As a distinct but inseparable measure to the guarantee of women’s human rights, the State recognizes and guarantees the promotion of the welfare and rights of children.

The State likewise guarantees universal access to medically-safe, legal, affordable, effective and quality reproductive health care services, methods, devices, supplies and relevant information and education thereon even as it prioritizes the needs of women and children, among other underprivileged sectors.

The State shall eradicate discriminatory practices, laws and policies that infringe on a person’s exercise of reproductive health rights.

However if one were to look at the 1987 Constitution’s Bill of Rights, starting with:

SEC. 1.
No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.

SEC. 2
The right of the peole to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

SEC. 3.
(1) The privacy of communication and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court, or when public safety or order requires otherwise as prescribed by law.
(2) Any evidence obtained in violation of this or the preceding section shall be inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.

SEC. 4.
No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the Government for redress of grievances.

SEC. 5.
No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.

There is no mention of the “the universal basic human right to reproductive health” in the 1987 Constitution.

This reminds me of the constitutionality challenge to Obama’s health care reform. it has been upheld that health care is not a right protected by the constitution – and therefore the penalties outlined below

Any violation of this Act or commission of the foregoing prohibited acts shall be penalized by imprisonment ranging from one (1) month to six (6) months or a fine of Ten Thousand (P 10,000.00) to Fifty Thousand Pesos (P 50,000.00) or both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the competent court; Provided That, if the offender is a public official or employee, he or she shall suffer the accessory penalty of dismissal from the government service and forfeiture of retirement benefits. If the offender is a juridical person, the penalty shall be imposed upon the president or any responsible officer. An offender who is an alien shall, after service of sentence, be deported immediately without further proceedings by the Bureau of Immigration.

which will deprive one of property has no constitutional basis.

Diversity of Opinions – Jury is still out?

Human population control is a very charged issue.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_population_control

Opinions vary among economists about the effects of population change on a nation’s economic health. Recent US scientific research concluded that the raising of a child costs about $16,000 yearly ($291,570 total for raising him/her up to his/her 18th birthday).[20] In the USA, the multiplication of this number with the yearly population growth will yield the overall cost of the population growth. Costs for other developed countries are usually similar.

While some believe that reduction of the population is a key to economic growth, others argue that population reduction should be focused on what they judge to be undesirable sections of the population (see Eugenics). Other economists doubt that a correlation between population reduction and economic growth exists. Some economists, such as Thomas Sowell[21] and Walter E. Williams,[22] have argued that poverty and famine are caused by bad government and bad economic policies, not by overpopulation.

In his book, The Ultimate Resource, economist Julian Simon argued that higher population density leads to more specialization and technological innovation, which in turn leads to a higher standard of living. He claimed that human beings are the ultimate resource since we possess “productive and inventive minds that help find creative solutions to man’s problems, thus leaving us better off over the long run”.[23] He also claimed that, “Our species is better off in just about every measurable material way.”[24] Simon also claimed that if you considered a list of countries ranked in order by population density, there is no correlation between population density and poverty and famine, and instead, if you considered a list of countries ranked in order by corruption within their respective governments, there is a significant correlation between government corruption and poverty and famine.[25]

This RHB is a good intentioned law – but I can’t support it in its current form because its delivery method is prone to being frontloaded with largesse.

I propose that the government procurement section be struck out. Replace it with a blend of tax policy and markets instead, specifically:

  • tax exemptions/fiscal/non-fiscal incentives to investments in contraceptives
  • tax deductions on capital outlay for contraceptive business
  • waive off sales tax on contraceptives, contraceptive ads
  • additional tax deductions for businesses that sell contraceptives.
  • lower taxes for households with only two children

From → Government

One Comment
  1. Anna Ang permalink

    Good views. I just hope government officials (or any RH BILL Advocate) can read this and at least take it into consideration. As I read, the bill is in no way compulsary or mandatory. And couples who has 12 kids are people who couldn’t read. Very sad eh?

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