March 25, 2010
In reaction to El Shaddai leader Mike Velarde’s announcement that he decided to run as a party-list nominee in order to oppose the Reproductive Health bill, the two women nominees of the labor party-list Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) today declared that they are challenging him to a debate on the issue. “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,” announced Judy Ann Miranda, PM secretary-general and a nominee of the group.
PM is the group that presented baskets of condoms to the Catholic Bishops Conference Office last March 8 as part of their advocacy for reproductive health. PM is running for the party-list elections on a platform of “Apat ng Dapat” which includes working women’s 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 Reproductive Health 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 Malou Parroco, another PM nominee based in Bacolod. Parroco said that the debate with Velarde could be held either in Manila with Miranda or in Visayas with her.
In a preview of her position in a debate, Parroco 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.”
While PM supports Sec. Cabral in her initiative to distribute condoms, the group is asking the Department of Health to make the distribution of contraceptives not just a publicity stunt but a regular program via the barangay health centers. “The public provision of contraceptives should go hand in hand with education on prevention of HIV-AIDS, unwanted pregnancies and teenage pregnancies among others,” Miranda clarified.
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 to parents and their children since this is also a public concern given the social dimensions of the issues.”
Miranda is a former UP Manila student council officer with two decades of experience as organizer of workers and the urban poor while Parroco is union vice-president of the Central Negros Electric Cooperative. The other nominees of PM are Renato Magtubo, former union president of Fortune Tobacco; Gerry Rivera, current president of PAL Employees Association and Wilson Fortaleza, former student activist who also became an organizer.