Wake Up, Philippines!

Surveys of Manila and Parañaque on RH bill

Posted in Abortion, Contraception, Family Planning, Reproductive Health, Surveys by Erineus on March 16, 2009

By Mahar Mangahas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:04:00 03/07/2009

Last Wednesday, at “Usapang PopDev” of the Forum for Family Planning and Development, SWS reported on its February 2009 survey in Parañaque City, showing public opinion on the Reproductive Health (RH) bill as very favorable. This means it is the same as the public opinion on the RH bill in the City of Manila and the Philippines as a whole, as polled in December 2008 and September 2008 respectively.

Among the items of the three surveys were probes into agreement, disagreement, or neutrality on the four key attitudinal statements found below. After each statement are the percentages that agreed versus disagreed; balances from 100 percent pertain to those who were neutral or who did not answer.

1. “The use of condoms, IUDs and pills can also be considered as abortion.” Parañaque: 33-53; Manila: 29-56; Philippines: 33-50.

Thus, at most, one-third of respondents classify condoms etc. as forms of abortion, as claimed by many in the Catholic hierarchy. Abortion is, of course, constitutionally illegal. The surveys make it clear that most Filipinos would not bother to dispute the legal status of these contraceptives on the basis of the abortion argument.

2. “There should be a law that requires the government to distribute condoms, IUDs, and pills to people who want to avail of them.” Parañaque: 70-19; Manila: 64-22; Philippines: 68-15.

This shows an overwhelming public rejection of the Catholic hierarchy’s opposition to governmental provision of the above-mentioned contraceptives for those who want them. Of course, most people know what church officials are up to — 66 percent in Parañaque and 62 percent in Manila agree that “The church interferes in the affairs of the government, especially in the issues of reproductive health and family planning” — and yet they still maintain high trust in the Catholic church. Fortunately for the faith in the Philippines, there is much more to being a Catholic than following every wish of one’s bishop.

It may be noted that only 15 percent of Filipinos object to having a law requiring the government to distribute condoms etc. to those who want them, even though as many as 33 percent regard such contraceptives as abortion. This means that, even among those personally opposed to condoms etc., most are open-minded enough to let others have an effective freedom of choice.

3. “If family planning would be included in their curriculum, the youth would be sexually promiscuous.” Parañaque: 25-58; Manila: 29-59; Philippines: 25-54.

4. “There should be a law that requires the government to teach family planning to the youth.” Parañaque: 85-9; Manila: 88-7; Philippines: 76-10.

The above are consistent with agreements that “Students of age 15-24 should be given adolescent health education in school” of 87 percent in Parañaque and 92 percent in Manila. They are also consistent with percentages agreeing that “Men and women 15-24 years old should be given family planning information and services” of 86 in Parañaque and 89 in Manila.

Filipinos who know of the RH bill pending in Congress are almost half in the entire nation (46 percent), and exactly half in Parañaque (49 percent) and Manila (51 percent). The bill was described in the survey as “giving the government the duty to promote responsible parenthood through giving enough information to the people and having safe, legal, affordable and quality reproductive health care services for people who want it.”

The bottom lines of the three SWS surveys are the percentages in favor of, versus opposed to, the RH bill: Parañaque: 84-9; Manila: 86-8; Philippines: 71-8.

The basic reason why opinions are overwhelmingly in favor of the RH bill is the widespread recognition that the problem of overpopulation in the Philippines is critical. Here are percentages that agree with the following statements: “Population growth increases poverty incidence” — Parañaque 71, Manila 74; “Population growth worsens environmental degradation” — Parañaque 65, Manila 69; “Population growth slows down economic growth” — Parañaque 68, Manila 70; “There is a population growth problem in the Philippines” — Parañaque 64, Manila 69; “There is a population growth problem in our city” — Parañaque 60, Manila 69; “The government of our city should have a policy on reproductive health and family planning” — Parañaque 86, Manila 88; and “The government should provide free supplies or service to the poor who wish to use any family planning method” — Parañaque 87, Manila 90.

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The first of the three surveys was done on Sept. 24-27, 2008, on a nationally-representative sample of 1,500 persons of age 18 and up (error margin of 2.5 percent). The second survey, on Dec. 27-29, 2008, had a sample of 600 persons of reproductive age (meaning, 15-54 years old for males and 15-49 years old for females) from the City of Manila. The third survey, on Feb. 14-17, 2009, had a sample of 600 persons of reproductive age in Parañaque City. The city-level error margin is 4 percent.

All samples were equally divided between males and females. The city-level samples were equally divided among congressional districts, so as to be of equal quality among them; the city-surveys found public opinion the same across districts.

Congresspersons who dispute the Social Weather Stations polls, but sincerely care about opinions in their own districts, should commission their own scientific polls at the local level. In the process, they may as well gather data on how their chances of being re-elected in 2010 might relate to their constituents’ opinions about the RH bill. How many can feel certain that, like their local bishop, they are so appreciated by the electorate that they can afford to openly oppose the RH bill?

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Contact SWS: www.sws.org.ph or mahar.mangahas@sws.org.ph

http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/columns/view/20090307-192802/Surveys-of-Manila-and-Paraaque-on-RH-bill