"President Duterte should stop making thoughtless, reckless and irresponsible statements at the expense of public health."
This was the statement issued by Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros as a response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s comments on family planning and contraception, arguing against the use of condoms as a family planning option, saying that it is "not pleasurable."
"Hindi masarap kapag may condom? President Duterte seems to be overly concerned with pleasure. There is nothing pleasurable or funny about the rise in our cases of HIV and teen pregnancy. By disapproving of condoms as a safe and reliable form of contraception, the President is denying the public the widest array of options to plan their families, protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and curb the growing number of teenage pregnancies," Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros, who is the Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, family Relations, and Gender Equality, said that the President's public disapproval of condoms also put the burden of family planning on women.
"Virtual insistence that women should carry burden of family planning alone"
"The President's statement is a virtual insistence that women should continue to carry the burden of family planning alone. This contradicts one of the aims of the Reproductive Health Law, which he claims to champion, to ensure equality in responsibility as far as family is concerned. This is unacceptable. Men must also do their share and be at par with women in sharing our family planning duty," Hontiveros stressed.
Hontiveros said Duterte should refrain from issuing statements at the expense of public health. "He wants us take him seriously but not literally. What does that even mean? Who interprets him best? So sino mag-aadjust, ang 100 milyong mamamayan ng Pilipinas o siya? When he decided to run as President, his responsibilities were clear. As the highest leader of the land, he is expected to make intelligible public statements that promote progressive policy-making and positive behavioral change, especially those concerning public health," she said.
Hontiveros is the author of Senate Bill No. 376 or the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Bill which seeks a comprehensive, inclusive and localized response towards HIV-AIDS. She also filed Senate Bill 1482 or the Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Act, which calls for the development of a National Program of Action and an investment plan for the prevention of teenage pregnancy.
The United Nations reported that the Philippines has the highest HIV infection growth rate in the Asia-Pacific region. At the end of 2016, there were 10,500 Filipinos infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), a significant increase from 4,300 in 2010.
Meanwhile, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Teenage pregnancy remains to be a concern in the Philippines, where four out of 10 teenagers are mothers. A study conducted in 2013 revealed that 57 out of every 1,000 girls aged 15 to 19 were pregnant. In 2008, that ratio stood at 53 for every 1,000. It said that the Philippines is the only country in Asia and the Pacific which has not seen a decrease in teenage pregnancy in the last two decades.
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