Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Gibo pushes condom use; Gordon scrimps

by Christine Herrera and Joyce Panares

Original Story:

The ruling party’s standard-bearer Gilberto Teodoro Jr. on Tuesday became the first among presidential candidates to come up strongly in favor of the reproductive health issue.

At a forum sponsored by the 8,000-strong Philippine College of Physicians, Teodoro said that if elected president, he would earmark adequate funds for both artificial and natural family planning methods to arrest the ballooning population growth.

“The Department of Health must serve as a receptacle for various advocacies and support these advocacies actively. The department must provide funding for all modern and natural family planning methods, except abortion,” Teodoro said at the Medical City forum that was telecast live on a Lopez-owned TV station.

Teodoro also advocated for universal and mandatory health care while calling for an audit of the coverage of the Philippine Health Insurance Company, a government-run provider of health insurance for private and public companies.

Senator Richard Gordon of Bagumbayan remained steadfast in his position that not a single peso from the national coffers will be spent to procure condoms and other birth control devices.

“The problem is already there, so what we need is quality population. I am not going to spend government money to buy condoms to prevent population explosion. That is the responsibility of the parents,” Gordon said.

But Gordon said that the state should only support up to two children per family in terms of public education, stopping short of calling for a limit on the number of children a family can have.

The physicians’ group was dismayed with the absence of Liberal Party’s Senator Benigno Aquino III and Nacionalista Party’s Senator Manuel Villar in yesterday’s presidential forum, saying they did not put premium on healthcare as a national issue. Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral, who earned the ire of Catholic bishops for her advocacy of birth control, attended the forum.

The group’s president Dr. Eugene Ramos, however, lauded Teodoro and Gordon for showing their commitment to healthcare and facing squarely controversial issues such as reproductive health.

“By showing up here and giving your commitment to health care, you have earned our respect. We assure you we will vote with our conscience,” Ramos said.

Aquiano, who has changed positions on the reproductive health issue several times, chose to prioritize a campaign sortie in Bicol.

Ramos said the medical community has been pressing presidential aspirants to tackle the health issues given the problem of coverage as well as the “brain drain” plaguing the medical profession with 60 percent of Filipino doctors an nurses opting to work abroad for higher pay and privileges.

Original Story:

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