Big business calls on Congress to pass RH Bill means BUSINESS

MANILA - Big business has called on Congress to approve the controversial Reproductive Health Bill a day after a show of force of the Catholic Church and other groups opposed to the legislative measure.

In a joint statement released on Sunday, the Employers Confederation of the Philippines, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines, and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry called on the Senate and the House to “pass into law without further delay The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011, as embodied in House Bill 4244 and Senate Bill 2865.”

Reiterating their two-year support for the bill, the five business groups said they “strongly believe government must encourage responsible parenthood and promote family planning as a direct strategy for poverty reduction and maternal and child healthcare."

"The active role envisioned for government in the promotion of family planning is in keeping with the expressed desire of a significant majority of Filipinos as manifested in major national surveys,” the business groups said.

“While various parties and interested sectors may provide advice and guidance to parents on alternative choices regarding family size and the means to achieve their desired objective, we believe these are decisions ultimately for the parents themselves to make,” they said.

“Such a focused policy of family planning must provide lowest-cost access for the very poor to the services and materials to implement their free and informed choice,” the groups said.

The five business groups however oppose any measure that “limits free choice, and mandates the means to implement such choice.”

Also, the groups said they are “unequivocally opposed to any measure that condones abortion in any way.”

The MBC released the result of a recent poll among its members, in which majority of respondents favored the passage of the RH Bill.

Results of the business group's Business Opinion Survey showed that 80.2 percent of the respondents answered "yes" to the question “Should House Bill 4244 entitled ‘The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011’ be passed into law?”

Survey respondents who said "no" comprised 18.6 percent, while 1.2 percent did not provide an answer.

The said poll was conducted via fax and online from August 1 to 3 among 86 business executives, who compose 11.5 percent of MBC’s total membership.

On Saturday, about 10,000 braved the rain and attended a prayer rally spearheaded by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines at the EDSA Shrine.

The gathering was held ahead of a crucial vote for the House version of the RH Bill on August 7, which will determine whether or not debates for amendments to the bill will be allowed to continue.