March 29, 2010
Amidst the electoral carnival that puts a premium on personalities rather than platforms, the labor party-list Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) enters the second half of the national campaign by stressing its advocacies on issues such as the Reproductive Health (RH) bill. As an example of its platform-based campaign, PM held today an assembly of more than a hundred urban poor women in a depressed community in Quezon City in which reproductive health was the main agenda.
While discussing the RH bill, Judy Ann Miranda, PM secretary-general and a nominee of the group, issued a challenge to El Shaddai leader Mike Velarde for a debate on the issue. The dare was in reaction to Velarde’s announcement that he decided to run as a party-list nominee in order to oppose the RH bill.
Miranda announced that “So that the voters can have an informed choice for the party-list based on platforms, we are open to a public discussion on the Reproductive Health bill with Velarde as Buhay nominee.”
PM also expressed its support for the plan to teach sex education in the public schools. Miranda said that “In the context of fighting the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and preventing teenage pregnancies, teaching sex education to the youth is a no-brainer. This is a topic that cannot be left only to parents and their children since this is also a public concern given the social dimensions of the issues.”
PM is the group that presented baskets of condoms to the Catholic Bishops Conference Office last March 8. PM is running for the party-list elections on a platform of “Apat ng Dapat” which includes working class concerns such as universal healthcare coverage, regular jobs, affordable housing and a wage hike.
“Similar to the planned debate between Health Secretary Cabral and the Catholic bishops, a public discussion between PM and Buhay on the pros and cons of the RH bill will educate the public in general and the voters in particular. A debate on issues is certainly much better for the voters than being entertained by dancing girls on stage or being barraged by self-serving political ads,” insisted Miranda.
In a preview of her position in a debate, Miranda added that “Reproductive health is not a moral issue but a public health concern of women. Women must have the freedom to make informed choices concerning their bodies and their welfare.”
Miranda is a former UP Manila student council officer with two decades of experience as organizer of workers and the urban poor. The other nominees of PM are Renato Magtubo, former union president of Fortune Tobacco; Gerry Rivera, current president of PAL Employees Association; Wilson Fortaleza, former student activist who also became an organizer; and Malou Parroco, union vice-president of the Central Negros Electric Cooperative.