Press Release
September 19, 2011

Pro RH NGO's dared to reveal funding, allocation to abortion services

Are non-government organizations being used as conduits to facilitate abortions in the country?

This question is begging to be answered amid the debates on the Reproductive Health bill.

Senator Vicente Sotto III hurled a challenge to NGOs engaged in reproductive health services to "show their books" and allow themselves to be subjected to scrutiny to disabuse suspicions that they are being used as channels for abortions.

Proponents of the RH bill have scored Sotto for raising issues on the contentious measure, in particular the lawmaker's suggestions that they are pushing for legalized abortion.

One of these groups, the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP) has admitted being a "proud" member of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, which supports and pushes abortion. FPOP has admitted that IPPF performs abortions in countries where the termination of life in a woman's womb is legal.

Last year the FPOP got P26 million from IPPF to push its agenda.

Another group, Likhaan, has taken Sotto to task for what it called "a witch hunt" for those advocating the RH bill. Like FPOP, Likhaan has not made any categorical statement denying they are pushing for a legalized abortion in the country.

Sotto pointed out that NGOs like FPOP and Likhaan have been receiving foreign funding to push for a national policy on artificial birth control methods, including abortion, as a means of controlling the population.

Impliedly, a portion of these foreign grants was used to carry out "emergency contraception" and abortion-related services, part of the conditions for the grants.

The lawmaker, who has been debating colleagues on the RH bill, wants to know how many emergency contraception (which is a euphemism for abortion) have been implemented by these NGOs and whether these are legal in the first place.

Abortion, whether safe or unsafe, remains illegal in the Philippines, punishable by six years imprisonment. The Revised Penal Code imposes imprisonment for the woman who underwent the abortion, as well those helped facilitate the abortion. Article 2, Section 12 of the Constitution mandates the State "to protect the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception."

Sotto said reports on how the funds were spent or disbursed form part of the requirement of the funding agency, and usually before more tranches of grant are given.

He dared the NGOs, which are supposed to be epitomes of transparency and accountability, to make their reports public.

Of particular interest is how much of the funds went for emergency contraception and how much were actually spent for information and educational purposes.

Sotto said he finds it a contradiction that while these NGOs were supposedly aggressively engaged in information and education drive, abortion cases in the Philippines remains high as they claimed.

"If they are teaching safe sex and distributing contraceptives, why are abortion cases still supposedly high from unintended pregnancies?" the lawmaker said.

Considering the yearly huge funding from international agencies, Sotto wondered whether the programs and projects of these NGOs to promote reproductive health and artificial birth control methods were effective at all.

Given the fact that they still maintain that overpopulation because of supposed high birth rates remains a problem, Sotto questioned whether the international funds were actually put to use.

Sotto asked whether the dismal performance of these NGOs was the reason why some foreign funding have dried up. "Have the foreign funders seen the futility of funding a flawed reproductive health policy hinged on the distribution of contraceptives?

"It would be interesting to find out from these NGOs ,from their own words how they used the money that was given to them, what they tell these funders on how their programs have fared," he said.

"It is also interesting to find out these NGOs have outlived their significance in the scheme of things," he added.

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