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“To Members of Congress,” the petition begins.
“We urge you to represent the will of the public and many good Catholics and support universal access to birth control and maternal care for all Filipinos."
On Thursday, “global web movement” Avaaz launched an online campaign titled “Philippines: Save our RH Bill!”.
Found on Avaaz’s website, the campaign urges the online community to sign and forward the petition to friends through e-mail and social networking sites Twitter and Facebook.
As of posting time, it has been shared 1,688 times on the latter, and 371 times on the former. 123 e-mails have also been forwarded.
“Over 70% of the Filipino population supports the Reproductive Health bill, yet Congress has stalled the vote for the past 14 years,” reads the petition addressed to the legislative body. “We call on you to represent the voices of the majority of the people who elected you into office by voting to end debate on the HR bill on August 7th and voting to pass it swiftly thereafter.”
As soon as the petition garners 10,000 signatures, its creators plan to bring it to Congress, hoping to be able to do so in time for the August 7 schedule for the House of Representatives to put the controversial bill to a vote.
Netizens who sign the petition receive a thank-you e-mail in their inbox. The last paragraph reads, “Contraception is vital for women everywhere, but especially where birth deaths are rampant, unplanned pregnancy rates are high and access to regular birth control is severely limited. Let’s stand together as Filipinos now and ensure our politicians vote for the future of our country.”
Avaaz, which means “voice” in various languages, aims “to bring people-powered politics to decision-making everywhere” through the creation of media campaigns, the lobbying of governments worldwide, and the organizing of events and protests, according to their “About” page.
Funded purely by donations, the “not-for-profit” organization has designed campaigns “to end the Iraqi war,” “support the pro-democracy movement in Burma,” and “guard the Amazon” rainforest. It was launched in 2007 and has since gathered some 15 million members in 194 countries, taking action on more than 87 million issues to date.
It has some 33,000 members in the Philippines. Another petition, titled “Pass the Philippine Freedom of Information (FOI) Act Now!,” was created in July.