Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality Senator Risa Hontiveros on Thursday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent statement advising the public to avail contraceptives such as pills and injectables instead of condoms to address the country’s large population. The president, according to Hontiveros, “seems to be overly concerned with pleasure.”
The president on Tuesday night, in a speech before Overseas Filipino Workers repatriated from Kuwait, said “Huwag ‘yang condom kasi hindi masarap ‘yang condom [Don’t use a condom because condoms aren’t pleasurable].”
The opposition Senator said the President should stop making irresponsible statements at the expense of public health.
Hontiveros, who is the author of Senate Bill No. 376 or the Philippine HIV and AIDS Policy Bill, said that there is nothing pleasurable about the rise of HIV and teen pregnancy cases. She added that these issues should not be used as a joke.
“It’s not pleasurable with the condom, President Duterte seems to be overly concerned with pleasure. There is nothing pleasurable or funny about the rise in our cases of HIV and teen pregnancy. By disapproving of condoms as a safe and reliable form of contraception, the President is denying the public the widest array of options to plan their families, protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and curb the growing number of teenage pregnancies,” Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros said that the President’s public disapproval of condoms also puts the burden of family planning on women.
“Virtual insistence that women should carry burden of family planning alone”
“The President’s statement is a virtual insistence that women should continue to carry the burden of family planning alone. This contradicts one of the aims of the Reproductive Health Law, which he claims to champion, to ensure equality in responsibility as far as family is concerned. This is unacceptable. Men must also do their share and be at par with women in sharing our family planning duty,” Hontiveros stressed.
The lady Senator also lambasted the recent statement of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque that the remarks of the President should not be taken seriously by the public. She stressed that as the highest leader of the land, he is expected to make intelligible public statements
“He wants us to take him seriously but not literally. What does that even mean? Who interprets him best? So who will adjust, the 100 million citizens of the Philippines or him? When he decided to run as President, his responsibilities were clear,” she said.
Hontiveros was also the Senator who filed Senate Bill 1482 or the Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Act, which calls for the development of a National Program of Action and an investment plan for the prevention of teenage pregnancy.