LAGMAN: SOTTO EXORCISED AN P880-M
PHANTOM FUND FOR CONTRACEPTIVES
The reported P880-M cut from the alleged “budget” for condoms is both a cruel mirage and a gross misconception equating reproductive health solely to condoms and pills.
The amount of P880-M supposedly cut by the Senate upon the initiative of Sen. Vicente Sotto III was neither originally included in the National Expenditure Program (NEP) submitted by the President to the Congress nor subsequently incorporated in the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) approved by the House of Representatives and referred to the Senate.
There is no specific amount for the purchase and distribution of condoms and pills which was deleted from the budget of the Department of Health (DOH) as documented in the Bicameral Conference Committee Report.
Sotto gloats over the cut of a non-existent fund which Health Secretary Ona explained in a letter to Sen. Franklin Drilon, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, as a mere “alternative budgetary allocation” to answer the unmet contraceptive needs of currently married women of reproductive age based on the 2008 National Demographic and Health Survey, which was never funded.
To be exact, Sotto is exorcising from the budget of the DOH a phantom fund. If he can only tone down his self-righteousness he would realize that the supposed budget for condoms and other contraceptives in the amount of P880-M does not exist.
Moreover, reproductive health covers a wide range of priority concerns including breastfeeding; maternal and infant health; treatment and prevention of infertility and sexual dysfunction, HIV-AIDS and breast and reproductive tract cancers; youth sexuality education; and voluntary family planning, including the use of both natural and modern family planning methods, among others.
It is myopic to reduce the import of the RH bill to pills and condoms.
A “condomized” mentality may be good for orthodoxy but is precarious for the reproductive health of our citizens.
EDCEL C. LAGMAN