DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/05 January) — A study documenting the Reproductive Health (RH) Movement in Davao City echoes the RH bill debate in the country as it cites the strong opposition in the Catholic hierarchy as one of the major challenges that advocates face.
During the presentation of the research findings on Friday at the DMSF Auditory Room, Meong Cabarde, Board President of the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP), said finding a common ground with the nuns and other women members of the Catholic Church had been the only way to deal with such an opposition.
“Since the women members of the Catholic Church have gynecological concerns and are particularly against Violence against Women and Children, it becomes our unifying point to work on the RH issues,” said Cabarde.
He recalled that there were times when “we have to change the title of an ordinance even though the contents are just the same so that we can accommodate our differences.” Cabarde was referring to 2010 City Ordinance 335-10 known as Women’s Health Care Clinic Ordinance in Davao City.
The study also noted that some identified leaders in the RH Movement in the city were church and Basic Ecclesiastical Community (BEC) leaders. “This means that there can be a common working ground between the RH bill and the Catholic Church as we now strengthen the Catholics for RH,” he said.
Other challenges cited in the study are misconceptions and discrimination and financial sustainability of projects. “These challenges were overcome by persistent popular community education and evidence-based data-banking, volunteer pooling and fund sourcing,” he added.
The study strongly projects approval of the RH Bill in the Congress and includes in the RH Network the private sector, Department of Education and media. It also projects RH to be included in the curriculum.
“We will not teach our children about sex alone. We will teach them sexuality. “Dili na nato i-encourage atong mga bata na tawagon nila og bird o flower ang ilang sex organs (we will not anymore encourage our children to call their sexual organs birds and flowers),” Cabarde said.
Davao City, which has a Women’s Development Code and Children’s Welfare Code, has been identified as having one of the strongest RH Movements in the country. (Joan Mae Soco-Bantayan/MindaNews)