"Members of the 9YL raise their hands as they pledge to take part in opposing the Reproductive Health bill." Photo by John Daniel J. Hirro

Sept. 28, 6:39 p.m. – SEVERAL pro-life and youth groups on Wednesday threw their support behind nine young congressmen who have expressed their opposition to the Reproductive Health (RH) bill.

The lawmakers attended the forum “YUP to Education, Jobs and Health Care! Nope to RH Bill!” sponsored by Youth United for the Philippines (YUP), a coalition of youth groups that “advocates real long-term progress for the Philippines,” at the University of Asia and the Pacific in Pasig.

Members of the World Youth Alliance, Youth For Christ, Pro-Life Philippines, Filipinos for Life, and students from different schools joined YUP in supporting the nine congressmen, called “9YL,” who want the proposed P3-billion fund for the RH bill used for livelihood, education, and healthcare services instead.

The group 9YL includes Dakila Carlo Cua of the lone district of Quirino, Allan Velasco of the lone district of Marinduque, Rachel Marguerite del Mar of the first district of Cebu, Fatima Aliah Dimaporo of the second district of Lanao del Norte, Lucy Torres-Gomez of the fourth district of Leyte, Karlo Alexei Nograles of the first district of Davao City, Gabriel Quisumbing of the sixth district of Cebu, and Irwin Tieng and Mariano Michael Velarde, Jr. of Buhay Partylist.

“Our manifesto basically states three core beliefs that we stand by: First, we believe that the wealth of the nation is its people. Second, the P3-billion allocation for the RH bill is not something we can afford as a nation. There are so many things that our country needs before we can even dream or consider spending on these contraceptives. Third, the RH bill is very divisive. We should instead be looking at common areas where we can work together,” Cua said.

The 9YL statement published Monday said the P3-billion fund could instead be used in building 4,644 new classrooms to remove the classroom deficiency in Batangas, Cebu, Nueva Ecija, South Cotabato, and Valenzuela City; sponsoring work skills training of 214,285 Filipinos; or providing PhilHealth coverage to 2.5 million poor families which is “53.2 percent of all families who can’t afford the premiums.”

Quisumbing said that regardless of one’s stand regarding RH bill, all Filipinos are after the betterment of the country.

“We believe that in order to provide a better future for our country, we have to spend now on education, on medicine, [and] on health care. We better invest in the Filipino youth than in pharmaceutical companies,” Quisumbing said.

Only eight of the representatives were present in the forum because Nograles needed to attend to his wife who was about to give birth. Gervie Kay S. Estella


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