Voters to go for candidates who promote contraceptives –surveys
by Lilita Balane
MANILA, Philippines – Most Filipino voters would choose presidential candidates who openly support a national family planning law, according to surveys released on Friday by 2 major polling firms.
The surveys were commissioned by 2 different groups advocating family planning.
In the survey on family planning conducted by Pulse Asia, more than 6 out 10 (or 64%) of respondents said they would vote for candidates who promote the use of contraceptives.
In Congress, the provision for government funding for contraceptives has been the most divisive part of the reproductive health bill, which lawmakers failed to put to vote in almost a decade.
Now, an election year, Pulse Asia’s survey also shows that about 75% of the voters deem important that family planning be included in a candidate’s program of action.
Only 6% of the respondents in the February 21-25 survey, said that they will not support candidates backing modern family planning; 30% are undecided. The survey interviewed 1,800 respondents, and has ± 2% nationwide margin of error.
For its part, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) asked in its January 21-24 survey: “In the next election, on the issue of the proposed Reproductive Health Bill, will you vote for candidates who support it, will you vote for candidates who oppose it, or does this not matter to your vote?”
It found that about 38% of the registered voters will pick candidates who favor the RH bill.
The RH bill, also known as House Bill 5043, is a measure that seeks government funding to provide Filipinos information on their family planning options and access to natural and artificial birth control methods. The bill has not reached panel debates before the House adjourned last February.
Only 6% say they will vote for candidates opposed to it. The rest of the respondents either believe that the candidates stand on the RH bill will not affect their votes or they are not aware of the bill.
The January 21 to 24 survey of the SWS carried face-to-face interviews with 2,100 registered voters nationwide. It has a ±2.2% margin of error.
Both surveys maintained that majority of the voters favor government funding and access to modern family planning methods.
Pulse Asia showed that 9 out of 10 voters (87%) think that the government should allot funds for contraceptives. Only 4% disagree; 10% are undecided.
SWS, on the other hand, showed that 68% of the respondents support access to “all legal means of family planning,” while 10% disagreed and 22% are undecided. Results are consistent across all income groups and religion.
Presidential candidates should heed what the surveys are saying, said women’s group Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines at a forum where Pulse Asia’s findings were presented.
RH advocates claimed that some candidates are not supportive of the RH bill because of fear that the Catholic Church will campaign against them. In late 2009, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines released a catechism discouraging Catholics from voting for pro-RH bill candidates.
Among the 9 presidential candidates, 5 are supportive of the government having a comprehensive family planning policy. They Benigno Aquino III, Richard Gordon, Maria Ana Consuelo Madrigal, Eddie Villanueva, and Nicanor Perlas.
Manuel Villar Jr. and Juan Carlos delos Reyes, who are both with conservative Catholic groups, are entirely opposed to it. Joseph Estrada has not made a firm position on the issue, while Gilberto Teodoro Jr. believe that the RH bill will not directly address the worsening poverty in the country.
The principal proponent of the RH bill, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, scored candidates who had been saying that a national family planning law is no longer needed.
Lagman explained that approving the RH bill would:
- Institutionalize family planning and reproductive health as priority national policies rather than leave these overriding concerns to varying and vague personal preferences of the national executive leadership.
- Assure adequate funding to promote massive information campaign and ready access to reproductive health products and services to acceptors of family planning methods, whether traditional or modern; and
- Provide a nationwide comprehensive approach to family planning which is rights-based, heath oriented, and development propelled, unlike the present fragmented and differing implementation depending on the peculiar idiosyncrasies of local executives.
Ramon San Pascual, executive director of the Philippine Legislators’ Committee on Population and Development (PLCPD), said that their group has scheduled dialogues with presidential candidates to discuss the results of the surveys. Pascual said that they had already discussed it with Bangon Pilipinas’ Villanueva, who vowed to prioritize the deliberations of the RH bill if he would be elected.
The Pulse Asia survey was commissioned by the PLCPD, while the SWS survey was commissioned by the Forum for Family Planning and Development. (Newsbreak)